People for Bikes came out with their city ratings last week and surprising to no one here in the Natural State, Fayetteville ranked among the highest cities in Arkansas with Bentonville, Bella Vista, Springdale and Rogers coasting in right behind them in their respective size categories for the state. Small cities were any city with a population of 50,000 or less, and medium cities were cities with populations between 50,000-300,000. All the cities included in Arkansas, were ranked in either the small or medium category.
Currently more than 1,000 cities are ranked nationally and among those only 14 were included from Arkansas. Fayetteville, which scored 50, ranked 62nd overall nationally among all the cities listed, followed by Bentonville with a score of 48, Bella Vista ranked third with a score of 47. Springdale (42) and Rogers (40).
If there were an honorable mention category, then it would go to the remaining cities, Conway (25), Siloam Springs & Little Rock (20), North Little Rock (17), Hot Springs (16), Jonesboro (15) , Fort Smith & Mountain Home (14), and Pine Bluff (11).
Scores initially were rated out of five, but the group switched to a 100-point system that includes two inputs – the quality of a city’s bicycle network and community perceptions of cycling. A city’s network score comes from a group cycle network analysis and a community score comes from an annual community survey.
Fayetteville scored 46 for its network. In that analysis, the city ranked highest for bicycle access to recreational facilities and retail, but the report suggests that Fayetteville could improve access to more jobs, places that meet basic needs, like schools and hospitals.
Fayetteville’s community score of 67 was resoundingly higher than the national average of 24. The city scored a 94 for awareness, which measures how familiar people are with local biking resources and city’s efforts to improve biking. Fayetteville’s rider score was also high sitting at an impressive 79.
Why are these ratings important? For mobility purposes a city with a good bicycle rating may appeal more to individuals looking to travel or relocate for work and family. Especially as higher gas prices discourage a great deal of driving, living in a city with an interconnected and safe bicycling network is appealing to everyone, not just mountain bike toting tourists. If a city is a good place to cycle then is it a good place to live? Judging from the ratings it appears as though there might be a correlation.
People for Bikes has resources and tips available also on their website to help learn about how cities can improve their overall scores.