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June 9, 2020

2020 City Ratings: Acceleration

By: PeopleForBikes Staff

A bike repair station.
A bike repair station.

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On a year-to-year basis, Acceleration is where cities can make the biggest difference in their City Ratings scores. What we’re measuring here is how committed a city is to growing bicycling quickly. The Acceleration rating is designed to identify cities that may not provide a great bike riding experience today but are doing all the right things to grow bicycling over the next three to five years. 

Acceleration is about setting plans into motion, taking action for the future and recognizing that changing long-term safety and ridership requires action today. Here’s how we calculate Acceleration scores:

  1. Planned growth in bicycle facilities and events. The City Snapshot collects data on the percentage increase in bike facilities and event participation in U.S. cities.
  2. Perceptions of progress. The Community Survey measures how city residents feel about the progress the city is making toward better bicycling.

2020 City Ratings Top Five for Acceleration:

  1. Fayetteville, AR
  2. Las Vegas, NV
  3. Bella Vista, AR
  4. San Luis Obispo, CA
  5. Memphis, TN


Fayetteville, Arkansas

The Fayetteville Mobility Plan, first introduced in 2017, represents a huge shift in the direction of the community’s perception of transportation. The plan benefited from strong community support for investment in active transportation.

Since 2014, Fayetteville has added more than 15 miles of bike trails, and 83% of their population now lives within a half mile of a paved trail (up from 55% in 2015). “Fayetteville is small enough that a person can reach most places by bike in about 15 minutes and get all the way across town in an hour,” says Dane Eifling, Fayetteville’s mobility coordinator. “Our paved trails follow the flattest route right through the middle of town which make them fun and easy to ride along with getting you where you need to go.”

In the near term, Fayetteville has numerous upcoming projects planned to be completed by the end of 2020 to help create an even more well-connected network of bike lanes, paths and trails around the city. Longer term, the city plans to continue their build-out of active transportation paths and trails so that by 2040, 97% of the population will live within a half mile of any given trail.


Las Vegas, Nevada

While bikes might not be the first thing people think of when they think of Las Vegas, recent efforts by the city are looking to change that impression. “Changing perceptions has been important for Las Vegas — whether it’s our sustainability efforts, professional sports, even our bicycling culture,” says Marco Velotta of the city’s Office of Sustainability. “Las Vegas has made great strides to make itself a place for bikes.”

Such strides include constructing and funding more bike facilities, promoting bicycle use for transportation and continuing to foster the growth of bike culture for riders of all ages, abilities and skills. “The Las Vegas City Council will soon be considering the adoption of a new comprehensive 2050 Master Plan, which contains the goal of connecting and enhancing accessible bicycle and pedestrian facilities as part of a safe and efficient complete street network,” Velotta says. “The plan recognizes bicycling as a necessary active mode of transportation, and getting around without the need for using motor vehicles is something that offers a great degree of freedom as well as an affordable way of commuting.”

As part of the plan’s implementation, Las Vegas will be adding hundreds of miles of new bike lanes, including buffered lanes separate from vehicle traffic, and continue to expand the build out of its off-street trail network. 


Bella Vista, Arkansas

Talk about acceleration: Here’s what Bella Vista has accomplished during the last five years. Between January and November of 2016, the small city in Northwest Arkansas broke ground and completed 40 miles of multi-use trails. Construction of an additional 52 miles of multi-use trails began in September of 2018, which includes eight tunnels, three bridges and seven trailheads. 48 miles  have been completed, and the final four miles will be finished this summer.

“Bella Vista’s trail system provides a much needed mode of active transportation due to the area’s steep topography, lack of sidewalks, disconnected neighborhoods and miles of winding roads with narrow shoulders,” says Bella Vista Trails Coordinator Kay Curry. “The trail system allows the community to get out and explore natural areas that weren’t possible to access before.”

Looking forward, Bella Vista’s Metfield Greenway extension is the next step in the city’s push for a more well-connected network for bikes. The 2.9 mile extension will help connect neighborhoods, parks, recreation centers, a school, a hospital, retail centers and trailheads to the regional trail system, as well as expand the opportunity of active transportation to the greater Bella Vista community. 

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