For the fifth consecutive year, the League of American Bicyclists named Washington No. 1 “Bicycle-Friendly State” in the country. The announcement comes as Washington celebrates National Bike Month in May and encourages bicycling to work, on errands and for recreation.

“With support from the highest levels of government, (Washington) leads the nation in creating new bicycle infrastructure and using federal funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects,” according to the league.

When it comes to two-wheeled travel, Washington has set the bar high and serves as a national model for other states to follow towards becoming more bicycle friendly.

“We’re fortunate to have partnerships on many levels that support and encourage bicycling in our state,” said Kathleen Davis, director of Highways and Local Programs for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “It’s through this communitywide collaboration with advocacy groups, community leaders and elected officials, that Washington has earned this recognition as a national leader.”

The state was evaluated for several bicycle-related categories: legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement and evaluation and planning.

WSDOT supports bicycling through a number of efforts including:

• State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan – guiding investments and policy decisions based on goals for improving connections, increasing coordination and reducing traffic congestion.

• Pedestrian and Bicycle Program Grants – improving conditions for walking and biking.

• Safe Routes to School – improving conditions for children who walk or bike to school, and providing safety education for students.

• Designing for bicyclists – including bicycle and pedestrian facilities in new construction and reconstruction projects in urban areas.

• Washington State Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project – tracking the number of people biking and walking annually to identify opportunities for improvement.

Studies show that dedicated trails and bicycle facilities significantly increases the number of bicyclists and reduces the risk of collisions, especially in urban areas. Based on U.S. census data, bicycling in Washington has increased by 116 percent during the past 10 years. As part of our state’s efforts to enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety, during the 2011-13 budget period the state legislature funded 25 bicycle and pedestrian projects worth $9.8 million.

For 2010, the most recent data available, Washington was ninth highest in the nation for bicycle safety and the bicycle fatality crash rate was 0.89 bicyclists per 1 million – the lowest in the state’s recorded history.