05/01/12

US DOT: More investment in bicycling and walking pays offUS DOT:    More investment in bicycling and walking pays off

 

 

Saint Paul, MN (May 1, 2012)-A new US DOT report assessing targeted investments to increase bicycling and walking in four communities, including the Twin Cities, demonstrates significant impact on transportation behavior and on gas consumption, air pollution emissions, and health costs.

In the Twin Cities, where Minneapolis and surrounding communities were eligible for funding, the $25 million federal transportation pilot program lead to such visible changes as Nice Ride bike sharing and more than 75 miles of new bike lanes and sidewalks. The Minneapolis-area pilot program, known as Bike Walk Twin Cities, is administered by Transit for Livable Communities.

"Minneapolis has always been a great bicycling town. With this federal program and the ability to address local needs and opportunities, we have taken bicycling and walking to the next level," said Minneapolis Mayor R. T Rybak. "Investing in bicycling and walking makes sense in terms of the bang for the buck and for the positive benefits for our city and the health of our people."

The report indicates that bicycling and walking can carry a significant portion of the transportation load.

"Bicycling and walking are critical travel modes that will become even more important in Minnesota's transportation future," said Tom Sorel, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "The outcomes of the federal pilot program in the Minneapolis area help to demonstrate the value of comprehensive, strategic investments for walking and bicycling."

The four communities in the pilot program are Minneapolis and its surrounding communities; Marin County, Calif.; Columbia, Mo.; and Sheboygan County, Wisc. Using data from all four communities, the report found the following:

  • 49% increase in bicycling and 22% increase in walking from 2007-2010. Increases in the pilot communities to bicycling and walking and away from driving from 2007 to 2010 outpaced the national average from 2001 to 2008.
  • An estimated 16 million miles were walked or biked that would have otherwise been driven in 2010, and an estimated 32 million miles of driving were averted between 2007 and 2010. Given that nearly half of all trips people take are 3 miles or less, this shift is equal to 6 million trips to the grocery store or library-on bike or on foot rather than by automobile.
  • Increased bicycling and walking in these four communities meant a reduction of 22 pounds of carbon monoxide in 2010 per person or a total of 7,701 tons. This is equivalent to saving more than 1 gallon of gas per person or nearly 1.7 million gallons from 2007 to 2010.
  • $6.9 million savings in one year in the "economic cost of mortality" across the four communities. The report calls the estimate "conservative" because it does not include the benefits of reduced morbidity (illness) and does not consider the safety or the health benefits of improved air quality.
  • Steady or improved safety. While each pilot community experienced increases in bicycling and walking from 2005 to 2009, and therefore more risk exposure, fatal bicycle and pedestrian crashes held steady or decreased in each of the communities, according to available data.
  • Thousands of people were reached by training classes, personalized outreach, and other educational and promotional activities; many people tried bicycling for the first time in their adult lives or ever.

"This report demonstrates that increasing investments in bicycling and walking leads to lower health care costs. I am encouraged to see this evidence because it so closely aligns with our health improvement strategies," said Dr. Edward Ehlinger, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health.


The Nonmotorized Pilot Program (NTPP) was authorized in the 2005 federal transportation law, SAFEATEA-LU. Through the pilot program, "four communities, each with unique physical and demographic characteristics, identified and implemented a locally devised strategy to significantly increase the use of nonmotorized transportation, along with the accompanying safety, environmental, and health benefits," according to the report.

All four pilot locations funded infrastructure projects and community education and outreach. The Minneapolis-area pilot is the only one to fund a bicycle sharing program, Nice Ride Minnesota, bike and walk centers (at the University of Minnesota and coming this summer in the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis), and the Community Partners Bike Library, a program of Cycles for Change bike shop that works with local social service organizations to loan fully-equipped bicycles to their clients. One client of the Library said, "I had a good experience with my bike. It was easy transportation and fun. I got out more, got more exercise. It was easy to keep the bike in good condition."

The Minneapolis-area pilot is also the only pilot location administered by a nonprofit organization. Transit for Livable Communities was designated in the 2005 law to run the pilot location and created Bike Walk Twin Cities to carry out the work.

Robert Lilligren, Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council, said the pilot program "transformed city streets - not just on the projects that have been funded but in the concept of and commitment to a safe and highly functioning network for walkers and bicyclists. Some of these changes might have happened without the pilot, but the concentrated program created a momentum that achieved greater and more accelerated progress."

More projects funded by the pilot will open in 2012 in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Richfield, Falcon Heights, and Edina, as part of the program's goals to expand the network for safe bicycling and walking.  Bike Walk Twin Cities also continues to collect data about nonmotorized transportation. The latest figures show that from 2007-2011, bicycling increased 52% and walking 18%.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/ntpp/2012_report/

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