CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In 2008, West Virginia ranked dead last in the League of American Bicyclists' ranking of state bicycle-"friendliness." In 2009, the state rose to 42nd after attention to bicycle/pedestrian issues. But other states are working on bike-friendliness too, and some raced ahead. In the 2012 rankings, West Virginia dropped to 48th. But the state's ranking is likely to improve:
* The state Department of Transportation held statewide meetings this spring to gather suggestions for routes that could be turned into safe biking roads. They plan to publish final route recommendations soon. For information: http://www.transportation.wv.gov/highways/programplanning/planning/statewide/Pages/StatewideBicycleConnectivityPlan.aspx
* The state now has more than 375 miles of railroad beds converted to biking / walking paths. Bicyclists can pedal from Elkins to Parsons or Clarksburg to Parkersburg, for instance, on a rail trail, avoiding the hard road. More are planned.
* The West Virginia Mountain Biking Association is mapping trails off the hard road. The association is also working on mountain bike high school racing network as their top 2012 priority. More information: http://theopam.com/providers/74-west-virginia-mountain-bike-association. Click on "Events" for an impressive list of races.