The Federal Investment in Bicycling – Quantified
October 21, 2008
With major funding support from Bikes Belong, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has produced a new report, Active Transportation for America: The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking. The report quantifies the national benefits of bicycling and walking for short trips in the U.S. It also outlines future scenarios and potential savings in all these areas if bicycling and walking increase.
[img_assist|nid=1292125|title=|desc=|link=url,http://www.railstotrails.org/whatwedo/trailadvocacy/ATFA/index.html|align=right|width=155|height=200]On October 20, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) presented the report to Congress via Representative James Oberstar (MN), who serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Bikes Belong’s executive director Tim Blumenthal spoke at the event, along with several Rails-to-Trails representatives, including RTC president Keith Laughlin.
Putting figures to facts, the report documents the transportation, energy, climate, public health, and economic benefits of bicycling and walking. Never before has the case been made so clearly that relatively modest federal investment in bicycling and walking can save Americans tens of billions of dollars each year. The report compiles success stories from communities across the U.S. to show the potential to realize these benefits.
"The report illustrates the groundswell of public demand for investment in varied transportation choices," said Keith Laughlin, president of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. "Americans want compelling opportunities to improve their communities with bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Having transportation choices will save people billions of dollars in fuel costs and millions of hours wasted in gridlock."
The report reveals that the missing piece in America's transportation policy puzzle is active transportation: bicycling and walking. Although some may view active transportation as marginal, bicycling and walking currently account for 10 percent of all trips in the U.S., and could play a much larger role if the federal government were to invest adequately in providing safe and convenient places to bicycle and walk.
"By making active transportation a viable option for everyday travel, we will cost-effectively reduce oil dependence, climate pollution and obesity rates while providing more and better choices for getting around town," said Kevin Mills, vice president of policy for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. "Too often, transportation policies have fed these problems; it's time to make transportation part of the solution instead."
"The report shows that modest increases in individuals bicycling and walking could lead to an annual reduction of 70 billion miles of driving, and more substantial increases could avoid 200 billion miles each year," said Thomas Gotschi, research director for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. This could cut oil dependence and climate pollution from passenger vehicles by 3 to 8 percent, out-performing the historic contribution of other prominent solutions such as gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
"When communities invest in safe and convenient bicycling and walking facilities and connect them to public transit, good things happen," said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong. "Beyond the crucial health and community benefits, bike sales increase and the bike repair business grows. This has been an outstanding year for sales of bikes used primarily for commuting and short trips, but it is just the beginning. This report clearly shows what is possible if we continue to invest in safe, convenient places to ride."
Authored and produced by RTC with funding support from Bikes Belong, the Active Transportation for America report's intent is to raise awareness about the contribution bicycling and walking can make to our transportation system with increased investment.
View the report.