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8 Fascinating Facts about Bicycling and Walking in the US



This post appears to have originated from the Alliance for Biking and Walking:

Cover previewLast month was the launch of the brand new 2014 Alliance Benchmarking Report, a massive report filled with data and research on walking and bicycling in all 50 states, 52 of the most populous cities, and 17 midsized cities.

The Alliance produces the Benchmarking Report every two years in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative. Our goal: to comprehensively examine bicycling and walking transportation across the U.S. and how these trends relate to public health, safety, and social and economic well being. Benchmarking is a particularly helpful approach to active transportation issues because it allows comparison among states and cities while also measuring national trends. Our report looks not only at bicycling and walking levels, but a suite of related trends, like crash fatalities, weekly physical activity, transportation costs, air quality, and economic growth.

Want to check it out for yourself? Download the report here.

There’s a TON of really fascinating data in this year’s Alliance Benchmarking Report. Here’s our peek at the eight most interesting data points.

1. There are smaller percentages of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities where there are more people biking and walking.

Generally speaking, bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are a smaller percentage of roadway deaths in cities where there are more people who bike and walk to work. It could well be that if a city – or state – wants to reduce biking and walking fatalities, they should encourage more people to bike and walk — perhaps through better infrastructure.

 Inverse fatality - bikeInverse fatality - ped
2. People are healthier in states where more people bike and walk.

Getting more people out on the street biking and walking means more people meeting daily recommendations for physical activity. There’s a relationship between a state population’s physical activity levels and its levels of bicycling and walking.

Physical activity

Accordingly, the states where fewer people have diabetes also tend to be the states where more people bike and walk.


3. A large percentage of commuters bike and walk to work in Alaska, Oregon, Montana, New York, and Vermont.

Not so much in South Carolina, Atlanta, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Here’s a map of bicycling and walking levels by state across the country: State bike and ped levels


4. The percentage of people bicycling and walking to work is increasing, and cities and states are paying attention.

Overall, we’re seeing slow but steady increases in the number of people biking and walking in the United States. Biking and walking increasing

5. Overall, biking and walking fatality rates have been decreasing for decades.

Fatality rates for bicyclists and walkers are on the decrease, with slight upticks in the last several years.

 Bike fatality rate

Ped fatality rate

6. Very little federal funding goes towards making bicycling and walking safer, compared to number of trips taken and number of people who lose their lives while biking or walking.

Unfortunately, this is not a new statistic, but it holds true today. There’s a significant disparity between walking and biking modeshare (i.e. the percentage of trips that are taken by bike or on foot), walking and biking fatalities as a portion of all on-road fatalities, and federal funding for walking and biking. Congress tends to fund roadway infrastructure rather than sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes.

Mode share disparity

7. Most cities and states understand that biking and walking are important and are setting goals to improve safety for non-motorized travelers.

Here’s some good news: our state and local governments want to help us walk and bike more.

This makes a lot of sense. Public health improvements depend in a big way on increasing levels of physical activity. Plus, most city and state populations are growing, but land mass size is staying the same. Making all modes of transportation safe and accessible will better accommodate higher population densities.

City policy goalsState policy goals

8. More people tend to bike or walk to work when their state and city have strong biking and walking advocacy.

As a coalition of state and local biking & walking advocacy organizations, we’re pretty excited about people working together to make communities better. And it turns out there’s hard data behind this work. Data show a positive correlation between the number of people who bike and walk to work in a city and the incomes and staff sizes of those cities’ biking & walking advocacy organizations. Strong advocacy means strong active commuting!

Advocacy capacity vs levels of biking and walking


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