NTPP Report to Congress: Shift to bicycling and walking comes with infrastructure
For Immediate Release
Saint Paul, MN (June 25, 2014)-- The results of the first-ever experiment into the impact of pedestrian and bicycle investment on American communities, recently released, reveal that people will shift from driving to walking or biking if local infrastructure and programs enable it.
Since 2007, when the groundbreaking Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) began measuring the effect of new multi-use paths, bike lanes, pedestrian routes and trails in four test communities across the country, the growth in walking and biking in the test communities has been consistent and pronounced.
Established and funded by federal transportation legislation SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) in 2005, NTPP set aside $100 million for biking and walking in four communities of varying size across the country – Columbia, Mo., Marin County, Calif., Minneapolis, Minn., and Sheboygan County, Wis.
The pilot program was championed by long-time Minnesota congressman, James Oberstar, who died in May and for whom memorial services are being held this week in Minnesota.
The latest findings from the pilot communities show that an estimated 85 million vehicle miles of travel were avoided between 2009 and 2013, relative to the 2007 baseline. The walking mode share across the four communities increased 16 percent from 2007 to 2013, while the bicycling mode share increased 44 percent over the same period.
In the Minneapolis area, walking increased an estimated 14 percent and bicycling increased an estimated 60 percent between 2007 and 2013, based on three-year rolling averages. These increases equate to an estimated 2.8 and 9.5 percent average annual growth rates for walking and bicycling.
In 2005, the Minneapolis-area pilot location had 38 miles of bike lanes and 57 miles of shared-use paths for bicycles and pedestrians. The NTPP funded an increase of 66 miles of on-street bike lanes, 29 miles of bicycles boulevards, and 3 miles of shared-use paths, as well as 1504 bike parking spaces and, through funding of Nice Ride Minnesota, 1554 bike-share bicycles.
Safety and Crash Rates
Of particular interest to transportation officials, however, will be the remarkable findings related to safety and crash rates. Despite large increases in biking and walking, the pilot communities collectively observed a 20 percent decline in the number of pedestrian fatalities and a 29 percent decline in the number of bicycle fatalities from 2002 to 2012. Pedestrian injury rates (incidents per number of trips) declined between 18 percent and 55 percent in each of the four communities. Bicycling injury rates declined between 8 and 38 percent in each of the four communities.
Fears over increases in crash rates have been a barrier to more widespread support for plans to increasing walking and biking activity. The NTPP study, with the unique research benefit of a baseline year of comparison, now provides the statistical information to allay those fears.
“What this pilot has proven is that providing a dedicated pathway for walking and biking greatly reduces accidents, and that conflicts between the various modes of travel are unnecessary if you build correctly,” says Marianne Fowler, Rails to Trails Conservancy’s senior vice president of federal relations and an architect of the NTPP. “But what we have also seen is that by drawing attention to biking and walking, and doing basic education among road users, you boost the level of awareness among drivers and riders and walkers to look out for each other. Good infrastructure and signage, along with public outreach and education, replaces conflict with a more harmonious transportation system where each mode has its own place.”
The documented improvements in safety is a finding that is sure to interest U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who has indicated that making biking and walking a safer transportation option will be a focus of his administration.
“In transportation infrastructure terms, $25 million over four years is a relatively small amount of money,” Fowler says. “The transformative impact of this dedicated investment is now firmly documented. With the evidence now in black and white before them, Congressional representatives across the nation must be compelled to recognize that continued investment in walking and biking represents terrific value for American taxpayers.”
Access and Mobility
The NTPP findings also paint a compelling picture of the improvements in access and mobility provided by biking and walking infrastructure, a key indicator of a community’s economic strength. More than 70 percent of all NTPP infrastructure projects connect to employment centers, schools, parks, and recreation areas.
In the Minneapolis area, the NTPP increased access to the bicycling network from 32 percent to 48 percent, including approximately 28,300 residents of color, 2,800 people living under the poverty line, and 922 households without a car (see map on page 36 of the report). These figures do not account for other key Minneapolis program investment that address cultural and economic gaps, such as the Community Partners Bike Library (operated by Cycles for Change), the Nice Ride Minnesota bicycle sharing program, or the launch of the SPOKES Bike Walk Connect Center in the Seward neighborhood.
Access to Bicycling in Minneapolis, page 36 of NTPP report
“The Minneapolis-area pilot location, known as Bike Walk Twin Cities, vastly expanded the network for bicycling and walking,” said Barb Thoman, executive director of Transit for Livable Communities, which administered the Minneapolis-area pilot. “Our criteria for awarding funding included cost-effectiveness, addressing cultural and economic equity, and innovation. We also sought to build capacity for longer-term culture change toward non-motorized transportation. We’re excited to see how the conversation about bicycling and walking is building on the pilot.”
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