06/28/10

FHWA: Bicycling and Walking are Viable Forms of TransportationFHWA: Bicycling and Walking are Viable Forms of Transportation

 

FHWA: Bicycling and Walking are Viable Forms of Transportation
From Joan Pasiuk, Bike Walk Twin Cities Program Director


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) just released the National Bicycling and Walking Study: 15-Year Status Report, which underscores that bicycling and walking have advanced as viable transportation in communities across the U.S. The 1990 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey showed that only 7.9 percent of all reported trips were taken by foot or bike. However, according to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey, trips taken by foot or bike accounted for 11.9 percent of all trips reported.


Tracking data provided by the study is critical to measuring progress toward goals for biking and walking as transportation modes and for safety. With oil-saturated beaches on the Gulf coast, the bold role of FHWA in bicycling and walking transportation is welcome, and vital, leadership. Bike Walk Twin Cities, as a non-motorized transportation pilot project funded through FHWA and referenced in the report, continues to add to transportation science with its own monthly and annual count and bike/walk behavior surveys. Our counts confirm non-motorized growth in Minneapolis. From 2007-2009, we recorded a 13% increase in bicycling and overall bicycling/walking increase of 3%. With weather factors playing a significant role in Minnesota, we saw that even on the worst winter day 68% of walkers continue to walk and 20% of bicyclists bike. On a clear winter day, 36% of bicyclists are out and 81% of walkers. We expect even stronger trends in 2010.


However, continued federal funding is imperative to maintain the momentum. This funding should be flexible to allow communities to invest strategically in infrastructure, enforcement, encouragement, or promotion - with required, systematic measurement that contributes to national data analysis. In Minneapolis and surrounding communities, we are finding that communities need funding sources for maintenance to keep sidewalks and bike paths cleared. Locally, we also are seeing resistance to adding new road and sidewalk facilities that will require ongoing operational funds for plowing, repainting, and resurfacing. For bicycling and walking to be truly viable modes of transportation, year-round maintenance is key, especially in our climate.