Fayetteville becomes state’s first gold-level bike friendly community

(Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer)

The first gold-level bicycle friendly community in Arkansas has been announced, and you may have heard of the city that received the honor.

It’s Fayetteville.

City officials today announced that The League of American Bicyclists has designated Fayetteville as a gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community for the 2022-2026 period.

Fayetteville is one of eight cities in the state to receive a Bicycle Friendly Community designation, and the first and only to receive the gold-level designation. The city was first named a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly City in 2010, before upgrading to silver in 2016. The new gold-level award is good for four years, through 2026.

“The City of Fayetteville is honored to be the highest-ranking Bicycle Friendly Community in Arkansas,” said Mayor Lioneld Jordan in a news release issued Wednesday. “This is a reflection of our community’s commitment to accessibility, equity and more sustainable practices, as well as our staff’s vision and hard work to create an extensive network of trails for both transportation and recreation.”

In Northwest Arkansas, Benton and Washington counties together have received a silver-level award, while Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville have all received bronze-level designations in recent years. Conway, North Little Rock, and Little Rock have also received the bronze-level designation, according to bikeleague.org.

The goal of the organization is to set standards for what constitutes a real bicycling culture and environment. The award designations are based on five key categories: evaluating communities on equity, engineering, education, encouragement and evaluation/planning.

“Being a Bicycle Friendly Community takes more than hosting a yearly event or building a few bike lanes,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “The best communities for people who bike are places where efforts to build connected bike networks are complemented by ensuring equal access to bike education and hosting inclusive community rides and events for all types of riders. They are places where embedding equity and accessibility into bicycling efforts is the rule, not the exception, making them truly better for everyone. This round of BFC awards is a testament to the community leaders and local bike advocates who recognize the importance of a whole-of-community approach to bettering biking.”

In the national release about this year’s award, Fayetteville was specifically called out for its inclusion efforts.

“The newly gold Fayetteville expanded its Active Transportation Advisory Committee to include a designated position for an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) advocate,” the release stated.

With the latest round of awards, there are now 501 total bicycle friendly communities in the U.S.

City officials said that celebrations for the new gold-level awards, including events, programs and community rides are being planned for National Bike Month, coming up in May 2023.