Benchmarking Bicycling and Walking—Two New Reports


From Joan Pasiuk, Director, Bike Walk Twin Cities

Can you follow any major news outlet lately without seeing coverage of bicycling and walking over the course of a week? Take note of a two recent bulletins....

Alliance for Bicycling and Walking Issues Benchmark Data

On the heels of local benchmarking data released by BWTC, the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking issued Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2012 Benchmarking Report. The report is jam-packed with comparative data across years and geographies - an extremely valuable tool for all working to understand or enhance image
active and sustainable transportation in our communities.

The essence of this third biennial report: more bike/walk investments across more cities and states result in  greater bicycling and walking activity which increases health benefits, positive economic impact and safety. But glaring disparities between mode share and federal funding remain.

"Twelve percent of trips are by bicycle or foot, yet bicyclists and pedestrians make up 14% of traffic fatalities and receive just 1.6% of federal transportation dollars."

"Where bicycling and walking levels are higher, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes levels are lower. Higher levels of bicycling and walking also coincide with increased bicycle and pedestrian safety and higher levels of physical activity."

"Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects."

"If just one out of every 10 adults started a regular walking program, the U.S. could save $5.6 billion in health care costs."

A small detail has my attention. All three Alliance benchmarking reports to date have been funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a research stakeholdership that seems obvious today but would not likely have been likely a decade or so ago. And there is ongoing support from the bicycle industry - no surprise. But new on the scene for financial support in 2012 is AARP, which is "dedicated to enhancing quality of life for all as we age" and aims to "lead positive social change and deliver value to members through information, advocacy and service."

Organizations that see the promotion of bicycling and walking as part of a broader agenda (healthy aging!!!) - certainly a sign of a tipping point. Yes?


Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC) Shines a Light on Rural Bicycling and Walking

Feeling a little urban hubris about our local bike/walk counts? Our pilot partner, RTC, issued a report -- Beyond Urban Centers, Active Transportation in Rural America -- that may help to create more geographic camaraderie. Seems that across the U.S., metros, small towns and rural communities are on a similar active path of embracing bike/walk transportation. Using data from the Rural Policy Research Institute the report says that "in most cases the rates of bicycling and walking in rural communities are not dramatically different from that of large cities."