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Diamond is the new Platinum: League ‘moves the goalposts’

Tucson bicycle advocates who spent countless hours working on the application to become a League of American Bicyclists designated Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community might have a new goal now: Becoming a Diamond Friendly Community.

The LAB announced this week that it was adding a diamond designation to create higher standards in order to encourage American cities to compete with their European counterparts.

“If it sounds like we are moving the goalposts, it’s because we are,” says Andy Clarke, League President said on the LAB’s blog announcing the addition. “Communities are doing so much more, and the state of the practice in innovative infrastructure and programs has developed so rapidly in recent years, that it really is time to challenge communities to do even more to make biking better.”

Here’s the LAB’s rationale:

Bicycling is racing into the mainstream in many American communities and it’s time for the United States to shine on the international stage. To guide and support the rapid progress in top bike-friendly cities, the League has added a new challenge and opportunity for Bicycle Friendly Communities: Diamond status.

Over the past 10 years, the League’s Bicycle Friendly Communities program has transformed biking across North America. From small mountain towns to our nation’s biggest cities, elected officials, local advocates and bicycle planners have used the comprehensive approach of the BFC program to make bicycling safer and more comfortable for millions of Americans.

From 2000 to 2010, bicycle commuting rose 40 percent in the U.S. But, in the 38 largest BFCs, the rise in bike commuters was almost double the national rate, growing a staggering 77 percent over the same time period.

For the first decade, the BFC program ranked communities at the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels. But we’ve seen such tremendous progress, innovation and enthusiasm from communities nationwide that it’s time to set the bar higher. It’s time to move beyond Platinum. Welcome to the dawn of the Diamond BFC.

According to the announcement criteria for obtaining diamond status will be tailored to each city applying and will create clear 5, 10 and 15 years goals. The primary yardstick for each community will be the number of people riding and their satisfaction.

Jonathan Maus at BikePortland.org reported that Portland advocates were concerned that the city was “resting on its laurels” after obtaining platinum status. Maus wrote:

But with such a push for Platinum, many local advocates have grumbled that once achieved, it made Portland even more complacent and pleased with our own progress. Here’s how the Bicycle Transportation Alliance says it in a blog post about the new Diamond status:

“the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, along with many others, has often wished that the bar was higher. Too often we feel that city and region have been resting on their laurels. We also heard from opponents of investing in bike infrastructure that we have over-invested, or, “We are already Platinum, why do more?”.

According to the LAB the goal is to compete internationally.

“The end goal: American communities that rival top international cycling cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam with world-class facilities, like protected bike lanes – and so much more.”

3 comments
zz
zz

Part of it is an acknowledgement (pat on the back) for the efforts made in the region on the behalf of cycling. It also indicates how serious a community is about cycling which is helpful to city and county bike planners for attaining funds for projects. The award shouldn't be the goal because, if an area doesn't get it, it appears as a failure. Cycling here has benefited greatly from efforts to improve conditions. But, geez, there are places in the world that are doing interstate highway-type systems for bikes. So the award is a motivation and validation from an outside source for communities because sometimes harping from the locals, although useful, can get tiresome.

Nate
Nate

Does the city get more funding for bicycle transportation projects when it has higher ratings from the League of American Bicyclists? Why is there such a focus on achieving higher levels for Tucson other than the hopes of getting more cycling tourists here? What's the point of all this?