Fergus Falls is now a League of American Bicyclists silver level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC), an improvement from last year’s bronze designation. The award recognizes Fergus Falls for its commitment to creating transportation and recreational resources that benefit its residents of all ages and abilities while encouraging healthier and more sustainable transportation choices.
Fergus Falls is 1 of 31 communities in Minnesota and 488 around the United States that are working toward creating safer streets that allow for better bicycling. “Communities like Fergus Falls are leading the nation when it comes to important livability factors that people want where they call home, like safe and accessible places to bike,” says Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists.
To raise their designation from a bronze to a silver BFC, Fergus Falls had to improve public education outreach, offer at least two annual adult bicycle skills classes, increase the number of primary and secondary schools offering bicycle education from 33% to 43%, raise the total bicycle network mileage to total road network mileage from 26% to 30%, raise the number of arterial streets with bike lanes from 33% to 45% and increase the amount of people commuting by bicycle while decreasing crashes and fatalities. Communities are also required to have an active bicycle advisory committee and an active advocacy group, a role filled by Pedal Fergus Falls, which has hosted a number of cycling events in the area and also helped install new artistic bike racks throughout the city.
There are a total of five designations for BFCs (bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond), so Fergus Falls still has room for improvement, but it’s a great step forward to be recognized as being in the top 29% of all BFCs. “Our nation and globe are facing complex public-health and road-safety challenges, and we’re proud that Fergus Falls and communities like it are embracing bicycling,” says Nesper.
The BFC program provides a roadmap to making biking better for communities of all shapes and sizes. It considers a variety of elements such as bike infrastructure, education, encouragement, evaluation and enforcement, all through the lens of equity. Minnesota itself is considered the second most bicycle-friendly state in the U.S. and, in addition to Fergus Falls’ rank improvement, Albert Lea and Hopkins are also newly recognized BFCs.
Speaking to BikeMN about becoming a silver BFC, Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer said, “We are extremely proud of our partnership with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota and honored to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as one of only two silver-level Bicycle Friendly Communities in greater Minnesota. We look forward to building on the partnerships we’ve created and to bringing home the gold in a few years!”