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Report notes nationwide increase in biking and walking

Posted by on June 16th, 2010 at 10:12 am

Cover of report.

New data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration shows that biking and walking have increased by 25% in America since 2001.

The National Bicycling and Walking Study: A 15-Year Status Report, put together by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (and funded by the FHWA) looked at trends in biking and walking levels since 1994 and is an update to a study done that same year. The report noted a significant increase in walking, fewer injuries and fatalities to people walking and biking, and an increased amount of federal investment in non-motorized transportation modes.

For U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, the report will be used as much-needed ammunition to maintain his drumbeat for active transportation.

Here are a few key graphs from the report:

A lot of the 2009 jump is due to stimulus funding like TIGER grants.

Biking has not grown as much as walking.

You can download the complete report as a PDF here.

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  • Gabriel Nagmay June 16, 2010 at 10:51 am

    “Biking has not grown as much as walking.”

    Sure, but only by one percent! There may be less trips taken on bike total, but percentage-wise the growth is virtually the same:

    18B -> 42.5B = 236%
    1.7B -> 4B = 235%

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  • ecohuman June 16, 2010 at 11:03 am

    From the report:

    It should be noted that, though the original goal of increasing the percentage of bicycling and walking trips reported was based on the 1990 National Personal Travel Survey data, the survey methodology has changed over time. Between the 1990 and 1995 surveys, the phone interviews were replaced by individual travel logs, which could have resulted in an increase in the number of reported walking and bicycling trips. Also, some questions were added between 1995 and 2001 that may have affected the number of reported bicycling and walking trips. Clifton and Krizek, in a report prepared for the National Household Travel Survey Conference, examined the strengths and weaknesses of the data provided by the NHTS.5 While the change in trip reporting in the 2001 NHTS included methods for accounting for non-commute and other trips that might have been obscured, there are still limitations in the methods of gathering bicycling and walking trip data.

    This characterizes a trend noticed amongst all census-based data in the past decade: “increases” based heavily on self-reported, self-selected, electronic record-based “studies” and ACS data. Social science-y attempts at quantification are coming up against limits, and the amount of census “data” has more than quintupled in the past two decades.

    I’d love to see less cars, but I’m also extremely cautious about relying on these sorts of soft-core reports for any kind of “proof” of a trend. The US DOT has made the same caveat (though not quoted in the report or the website).

    Also omitted from the report–US population has grown by 45-50 million people since 1994, the number of cars has grown from about 156 million to over 200 million, and air and water quality continue to decline nationwide (even in Portland).

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  • Racer X June 16, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I remember those days …

    …way back in the late 80’s when we were happy with $10m nationwide…and few gallons of paint between our Schwinns and those Lincoln Continentals and Checker Cabs….no bike traffic jams at the bridge I tell you…

    …back when we paid taxes too…and got nothin… but a back slap to the bare head or a thrown empty bottle of beer to the back…

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  • Michael M. June 16, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Interesting report! I wish there was a little more detailed information about how the data is classified — for example, what exactly constitutes a “trip”? Does going from home to the convenience store a block away and back home again count? Are trips with multiple stops one “trip” or multiple trips? How these kinds of things are classified certainly would affect whatever my mode split might look like, and I suspect that’s true for a lot of people.

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