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Frequently Asked Questions

Here you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions communities have about the Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) program. If you don’t see your question on the list, email [email protected] for assistance.

 Why should we apply for a BFC award?

It’s worth investing in becoming more bicycle friendly, and when you do, your efforts deserve recognition. Communities that are great places to cycle are great places to live and visit – for example, residents are more active, road maintenance costs can be lower, spending at local retailers can grow, vehicle parking demand can go down, and tourism can get a boost. Communities that receive a BFC award send the message that residents’ quality of life matters, and demonstrate responsiveness to pent-up demand for cycling. (Data from Share the Road’s 2018 polling showed that 67of Ontario residents say that their community needs more infrastructure and programming to make cycling safer and more convenient.)

The popularity of the BFC program speaks for itself: As of 2021, 52 communities have been awarded a 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 a customized feedback report to help guide your future efforts toward becoming more bicycle friendly. Once your community becomes a BFC, Share the Road will present an award and one highway-quality road sign to your community at the Ontario Bike Summit and celebrate your success in a media release and social media.

What are the characteristics of a Bicycle Friendly Community?

The BFC process is designed to accommodate municipalities of all shapes and sizes – from small rural centres to bustling urban metropolises. What makes an individual community bicycle friendly will vary from place to place, and the BFC application form and judging process takes that into account. In general, a bicycle friendly community will take a comprehensive approach that incorporates all ‘4 Es’ (Engineering, Education, Encouragement, and Evaluation and Planning). For example, a bicycle friendly community is likely to have a network of bike lanes, multi-use trails and other infrastructure to make cycling safe and inviting; host events designed to encourage people to cycle; educate motorists and cyclists about their rules and responsibilities on the road; conduct data collection about cycling; and plan for future growth in the number of cyclists on the roads. The exact cycling infrastructure and activities will vary by community, though. No two BFCs are ever the same!

Where can I find reports and case studies?

Information on best practices and highly transferable programs from across Ontario can be found in Share the Road’s Bicycle Friendly Communities Yearbooks. The League of American Bicyclists’ Resources Page is also a great source of guidance and information about bicycle friendly communities.

Is there a cost associated with the application?

No. Thanks to the generous support of the Canadian Automobile Association, we are able to waive all application and renewal fees.

Who can apply?

Any local municipality, military base, aboriginal territory or regional municipality can apply to the BFC program. The application must be submitted with the support of the municipality that is applying. Usually, a community official responsible for cycling issues completes the application. However, much of the application can be completed by anyone familiar with what a community has done for cycling 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.

How do I apply?

Visit the Getting Started page to learn more about the application process.

How long are awards valid for?

A 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.

Does the renewing process differ from my first application?

Both new and renewing applicants fill out the same application form. However, if you applied in 2018 or later, you can transfer the data from your old application over to your new one. Application data from prior to 2018 is still available in PDF format, simply email us at [email protected] and we can send you a copy.

When is the next deadline?

The next deadline for the BFC Program is yet to be announced, early 2023 it timeframe. There are two application rounds each year – one in the spring and one in the fall.

What happens after I apply?

Once an application round closes, the applications, any submitted supplemental material and the local feedback are reviewed by a panel of provincial bicycle professionals to determine if an award will be given. Applicants will then be notified of the result and receive a Feedback Report. All BFC award winners receive a digital award badge, one Bicycle Friendly Community road sign, and access to exclusive BFC-CAA bicycle racks. The awards are typically announced via a news release and celebrated at the Ontario Bike Summit each year.

What happens if my community doesn’t qualify?

Not all applicants will receive a BFC award. Some applicants – the ones that fall just short of a designation – receive an Honorable Mention. And, some will not receive an award or Honorable Mention. However, all applicants (whether they receive an award/Honorable Mention or not) receive a Feedback Report that can be used to guide work towards a designation in the future.

How do I order more BFC road signs?

Contact [email protected] if you are a designated BFC and would like to order additional BFC signs or purchase sign artwork to procure your own locally.