Frequently Asked Questions
Here you'll find answers to some of the most common questions communities have about the Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) process. If you don't see your question on the list, email Justin Jones at [email protected] for assistance.
- Why Become a BFC?
- What are the characteristics of a Bicycle Friendly Community?
- What is the benefit to becoming a BFC?
- Where can I find reports and case studies?
Questions for Applicants:
- Is there a cost associated with the application?
- Is the BFC Program available across Canada?
- Who can apply?
- How do I apply?
- How long are awards valid for?
- Does the renewing process differ from my first application?
- When is the next deadline?
- What happens after I apply?
- What happens if my community doesn't qualify?
- How do I order more signs or BFC promotional materials?
Questions for Residents and Advocates:
All over Ontario, communities are realizing the value of active transportation. From lower road maintenance costs to increased local retail spend to lower parking demand, communities that are great places to cycle are great places to live. By being recognized as a BFC, your community sends a message to residents that quality of life matters to your community, and that you are responding to the desires of the 70% of Ontario residents* who say that their community needs more infrastructure and programming to make cycling safer and more convenient.
*Data from Share the Road's annual polling, 2013-2014.
The BFC process is designed to accomodate municipalities of all shapes and sizes - from small rural centres to bustling urban metropolises. It presents a rich array of options for communities to choose from to fit their particular context to make the community more bicycle friendly, but in general a bicycle friendly community has a network of bike lanes, multi-use trails and other infrastructure to make cycling safer, hosts events designed to give people the option to get back on their bikes, educates motorists and cyclists about their rules and responsibilities on the road and plans for future growth in the number of cyclists on the roads. The flexibility of the program provides communities with choices across "the 5 Es": Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation and Planning, to become Bicycle Friendly, so no two BFCs ever really look the same!
The popularity of the program speaks for itself: As of 2017, more than 65 communities have applied, and 40 have been awarded Bronze, Silver, or Gold designation. But, even if your community doesn’t quite make the grade yet, applying is well worth the time. Each applicant receives customized feedback and technical assistance. Once your community becomes a BFC, Share the Road will present an award and one highway-quality road signs to your community at the Ontario Bike Summit.
Share the Road is in the process of creating a BFC resources page, as well as a community of practice with BFC partners to share best practices. Keep an eye on this page and sign up for BFC Updates by registering for the BFC Partner mailing list here. For now, check out our Bicycle Friendly Communities Yearbooks, which profile best practices and highly transferable programs from across Ontario, or the League of American Bicyclsts' Resources Page for guidance.
No. Currently, the BFC program is only available to Ontario municipalities through the Share the Road Cycling Coalition and to Communities in Quebec through Velo Quebec. You can access the Quebec version of the program here.
Any local municipality, military base, aboriginal territory or regional municipality can apply to the BFC program. Usually, a community official responsible for bicycling issues completes the application. However, much of the application can be completed by anyone familiar with what a community has done for bicycling as long as the community’s governing body approves its final submission. Often, the most complete applications come from communities where city officials, public agencies and local cyclists work on it together.
Visit the Getting Started page to learn more about the application process.
The BFC award is valid for four years. If your award is coming up for renewal, Share the Road staff will contact you to let you know.
Both new and renewing applicants fill out the same application form. However, if you applied in 2015 or later, you can transfer the data from your old application over to your new one.
The next deadline for the BFC Program is March 2, 2018 at Midnight, EST. There are normally two application periods each year - one in the early spring and one in the fall.
Once an application cycle is completed, applications are sent to several cycling experts, advocates and interested cyclists in the applying communities for local feedback. After the local review period, the applications, any submitted supplemental material and the local feedback are reviewed by a panel of provincial bicycle professionals. Applicants will be notified of the result about a week ahead of the public announcement to provide enough time to send out a press release and ensure attendance from elected officials, if desired. All designated communities designated BFC will receive an award certificate, a digital award seal and one Bicycle Friendly Community road sign.
Applicants that just fall short of a designation receive an Honorable Mention. Communities that receive an Honorable Mention are mentioned in Share the Road's official BFC Press Release. However, they do not receive a certificate, seal or road sign. The names of applicants that do not receive any recognition are not published. All applicants that do not achieve BFC status still receive a detailed feedback report that can be used to work towards a designation next time the community applies.
If you are designated a BFC you may order additional signage and promotional materials by contacting Share the Road's Bicycle Friendly Communities Manager at [email protected]