Kansas City, Missouri, receives bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community ranking

Today the League of American Bicyclists announced that Kansas City, Missouri, has received a Bronze Level rating as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

Bicycle Friendly Community logo
Bicycle Friendly Community logo

This award is the result of years of work by city staff, elected officials, local advocates, and the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation.

The League's award recognizes the city's significant and rapid improvement in the past three years--when Kansas City was identified and received international press coverage as one of the very worst U.S. cities for bicycling and Mayor Funkhouser stated publicly that the city planned to "go from worst to first."

Bicycle Friendly Communities are moving across Missouri
One of the top goals in MoBikeFed's 2008 Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri was "5 Bronze Level and 1 Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Communities in Missouri, and 5 additional communities working towards Bronze Level" by 2013.

At that time there were no Bicycle Friendly Communities in Missouri.

Guess what--as of today we have 3 Bronze Level and 1 Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Communities in Missouri, with two years to go until the deadline.

The Bronze Level cities are Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City.

The Silver Level city is Columbia.

Over a million Missourians currently live in an officially recognized Bicycle Friendly Community--compared with zero in 2008.

Kansas City's award
From the city's press release:

City receives bronze rating for bicycle friendliness

The City of Kansas City, Mo., has been recognized by The League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community at the Bronze level. A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes cyclists by providing safe accommodation for cycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation.

In spring of 2008, following a critical news story from the British Broadcasting Corporation that rated Kansas City as one of the worst cities for bicyclists, Mayor Mark Funkhouser announced his endorsement of an action plan that outlined steps leading to the City of Kansas City, Mo., achieving Platinum designation by the League of American Bicyclists by the year 2020. The Bronze level rating represents a critical first step along the way to 2020.

“We’ve made a lot of progress toward making Kansas City more bicycle-friendly since announcing this initiative three years ago,” said Mayor Mark Funkhouser. “I’m pleased we’ve reached the Bronze level, and urge the incoming Mayor and Council to push Kansas City toward a Platinum Rating by the year 2020. A strong community for bicyclists is a healthy, environmentally-friendly, family-friendly community. And those factors will make Kansas City economically strong as well. Next step: Silver. Let’s keep moving.”

Since 2008, the City has made considerable strides in improving infrastructure for bicyclists by adding bicycle lanes, signed routes and bike parking facilities; removing hazardous drainage grates; and working with the local bicycle community.

“We still have work ahead to accomplish the goal of a Platinum designation by 2020,” said Deb Ridgway, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the City. “This is affirmation that we are doing the right things and heading along a path that will realize the goal.”

The League of American Bicyclists indicated that the designation was the result of careful review of the City’s application and consultation with local cyclists. In February 2015, the designation will be due for renewal and re-evaluation. As the City continues to make improvements to its bicycle infrastructure, it is anticipated that a greater designation may be realized at that time.

Media inquiries about this topic should be directed to Deb Ridgway, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the City, 816-513-2592 or Dennis Gagnon, public information officer, 816-513-2659.

What does the award mean?
What does this mean for Kansas City and what does it mean for the future?

If you live in Kansas City or have visited recently, you will have noticed that the city does not yet have everything "fixed" for bicyclists. The city still has a lot of work to do.

The Bicycle Friendly Communities program doesn't recognize communities that have everything fixed for bicyclists--or there would be practically no Bicycle Friendly Communities in the U.S.

Rather, it recognizes communities that are moving in the right direction and have programs and policies in place to keep moving in the right direction.  What's more, cities must re-apply for the award periodically and if the city does not keep moving in the right direction, the League of American Bicyclists will--and in some cases in the past, has--reduce the city's ranking or remove it entirely.

The Bicycle Friendly Communities program takes a comprehensive look at a city's efforts--engineering, enforcement, encouragement, education, and evaluation--and cities that are doing well in every one of those areas will likely receive a Gold rating or higher, while those doing well in some or a few will receive a lower rating.

Making your community a Bicycle Friendly Community
If Kansas City can do it, your community can, too! We are looking for 5-10 more Missouri communities to apply for Bicycle Friendly Community status in the next two years.

Just going through the Bicycle Friendly Community process is one of the best steps citizen-advocates can encourage a city to take--because the application process is a broad census of all the things a city should be doing to encourage and support bicycling.

Just going through the process, a city will discover what it is already doing well and where it needs to improve in order to receive the award.  The city ends the process with a prioritized list of definite steps to take to improve the city for bicycling.

All it takes is one enthusiastic citizen, staff member, or elected official to start moving your city in the right direction.

Find out more and how to apply here.

Business and universities can also apply for Bicycle Friendly status.