CHARLESTON, W.Va. – New data from the League of American Bicyclists (LOAB) has shown that West Virginia has improved its ranking for “states considered friendly to bicyclists.”

The list, from the LOAB, placed West Virginia at 28 out of the 50 states, based on laws and policies that promote bicycling and keep cyclists safe. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 back in 2019, the league ranked West Virginia at 34.

The rankings were based on five criteria, with West Virginia meeting three of them thanks to its safe passing law, a statewide plan for accommodating bicycles and a complete streets policy.

“When this report first came out, we were 50th,” said Dennis Strawn, a worker for the West Virginia Division of Highways Strategic Data Management and Technology Division. “It shows the strides West Virginia has made over the past 10 years or so.”

Strawn, who rides his bicycle to his Charleston office every day, said the improved rankings are mostly due to the West Virginia Legislature and West Virginia Department of Transportation putting more of a focus on bicycles including providing funding to communities to better accommodate bicycles. 

Some of these improvements include House Bill 4304, passed by the West Virginia Legislature in 2014. Otherwise known as the Bicycle Safety Law, the bill made it so that drivers were required to “give bicycles three feet of safe passing distance when overtaking them on the road,” among other things.

“Through surveys, data collection, and analysis, the Bicycle Friendly States report and ranking demonstrates how states are — or are not — contributing to making biking safer, more comfortable, and an easier option for everyone,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “We applaud the vast majority of states for continuing to take steps to improve and increase the health, sustainability, and strength of their communities through biking. We hope this ranking and our report cards serve as a call to action for leaders in every state to invest in safe streets and connected bike networks and put in place the programs policies that will make biking a real option for transportation and recreation.”

Various cycling routes in West Virginia can be found through wvtourism.com or by checking bikemap.net.