How does Austin rank on the latest bike-friendliness list?

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Pam LeBlanc leaves her home on her way to the Austin American-Statesman offices in this 2014 file photo. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Pam LeBlanc leaves her home on her way to the Austin American-Statesman offices in this 2014 file photo. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Pam LeBlanc leaves her home on her way to the Austin American-Statesman offices in this 2014 file photo. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Time for another list of America’s most bike-friendly cities, class.

The latest study, from BetterDoctor, uses three values – the percentage of commuters who bike to work, the number of bicycle fatalities, and the amount of federal funds spent on pedestrian/bicycle projects – to determine each city’s score. It used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Alliance for Biking and Walking, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A bike and pedestrian path is under construction on the east side of the frontage road of MoPac north of Loop 360. Photo by Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A bike and pedestrian path is under construction on the east side of the frontage road of MoPac north of Loop 360. Photo by Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Austin came in 14th out of 52 cities on the list, making it the highest-ranking Texas city. No surprise there. We ranked well above Dallas, 24th, San Antonio, 30th, Houston, 35th, El Paso, 37th, and Fort Worth, 52nd.

According to the study, 1.57 percent of the Austin population rides a bike to work, our fatality rate is 2.4 per 10,0000, and we devote $4.18 in funding per person to bike/pedestrian projects.

Divya Raghaven, senior analyst at BetterDoctor and author of the study, said Austin’s percentage of bike commuters is higher than many other large cities.

Portland, where bike commuters stream across bridges and downtown streets and a whopping $8.35 per person in federal transportation funds go to bike/pedestrian projects, topped the list. (Of course. Yawn.)

“Austin has a long way to go before it can compete with Portland’s 6.14 percent of commuters who commute by bike, but city initiatives like Bike Buddy – a cooperation between The City of Austin and Open Austin – are pushing for the commuter rates to go up,” said Divya Raghavan, senior analyst at BetterDoctor and author of the study.

I’ve been commuting by bike for seven or eight years. I see more other cyclists now than I did when I started. We’ve also got more bike lanes – and bike boxes, cycle tracks, separated pathways and bike racks. More is coming, too, including a bike/pedestrian bridge over Barton Creek.

But we need so much more to get most folks to feel safe enough to pedal to work.

In general, big cities scored higher on the list. They’re more walkable and have a younger population. Cities with temperate climates also did well. (No, we don’t have snow. But anyone besides me dread that slog up Lamar Boulevard on a bike come August?)

To see the complete list, go here. http://bit.ly/1C5ERr1


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