The Case for Active Transportation, by the Numbers

Snapshot_2008_10_24_11_21_59.jpgThanks to commenter Stephen for prodding us to post on the new report from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, "Active Transportation for America" (download the PDF here).

What
makes the report notable are the numbers it contains. It’s jam-packed
with quantifiable benefits that would result from increased investment
in infrastructure that encourages and supports pedestrians and
cyclists.

For instance, the report’s authors write:

  • Increasing
    the bicycle and pedestrian share of trips of one mile or less from
    currently 31 percent to 40 percent under a Modest Scenario, and to 70
    percent under a Substantial scenario, would result in 28 billion or 49
    billion miles driven avoided, respectively.
  • Modest
    increases in bicycling and walking for short trips could provide enough
    exercise for 50 million inactive Americans to meet recommended activity
    levels, erasing a sizeable chunk of America’s activity deficit.
  • For
    the price of a single mile of a four-lane urban highway, approximately
    $50 million, hundreds of miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure
    can be built, an investment that could complete an entire network of
    active transportation facilities for a mid-sized city.
  • The
    financial value of improved mobility, fuel savings, greenhouse gas
    reductions, and health care savings amounts to more than $10 billion
    annually under our Modest Scenario. For the Substantial Scenario,
    benefits would add up to more than $65 billion every year. These
    benefits dwarf historic spending for bicycling and walking, which was
    $453 million per year for 2005–2007 under SAFETEA-LU, and a mere $4.5
    billion cumulative federal investment in these modes since 1992, when
    bicycling and walking first received documentable federal funding.
  • impressive numbers. i think ‘active transport’ people need to start making a stronger case.

    it seems like at least some folks think that mass transit does not come at the expense of active transit – i disagree.

    i think the paradigm right now is ‘cars vs. everything else’, and ‘everything else’ is just ‘mass transit’.

    i also need to look back at Pucher’s comments – he said, i’m guessing correctly, that relatively speaking, we’ve spent a lot of money on biking, compared to other societies, and still achieved very little mode share for active transport.

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