Massachusetts was named the third most "Bicycle Friendly State" in the country and the most bike-friendly in the Northeast by a national bike membership and advocacy group that released its annual rankings Tuesday.
The Bay State placed 9th last year, 16th two years ago and 19th in 2009 on the list compiled by the League of American Bicyclists, according to the nonprofit's website.
For the fifth straight year, Washington ranked first. Minnesota ranked second, after placing fourth a year ago.
"We are encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Minnesota, Colorado [which ranked fourth this year] and Massachusetts," said a statement from Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists.
"But, as the scores clearly highlight, there's much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and funding," the statement added. "Overall, we see states -- and especially state Departments of Transportation and state legislatures -- lagging behind cities and the expectations of local cyclists, despite the many well-documented benefits of a more active lifestyle."
The organization's survey compares states in five categories: legislation and enforcement; policies and programs; infrastructure and funding; education and encouragement; and evaluation and planning.
A statement from Massachusetts Department of Transportation secretary Secretary Richard A. Davey said the state's improving rank on the list over the past three years, "mark[s] our commitment to the MassDOT mission of providing safe, healthy, efficient transportation and the importance of our innovative GreenDOT policy."
Last month, the League of American Bicyclists named MassDOT and 66 other organizations as being Bicycle Friendly Businesses, making the Bay State department the first department of transportation to receive the national recognition.
David Watson, director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, or "MassBike," said in a statement that: "MassDOT’s growing emphasis on sustainability and its strong partnership with the advocacy community have led to rapid improvements for bicycling."
Elsewhere in New England, Maine ranked 9th on this year's list of "Bicycle Friendly States." Vermont ranked 18th, Connecticut ranked 20th, New Hampshire ranked 27th, Rhode Island ranked 39th.
To see the ranking of all 50 states, click here.
To read the full "report card" on biking in Massachusetts, click here.