Six lessons for Portland from the League’s new ‘Women Bike’ report

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
woman on a bike

Common, but not quite common enough.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Even in Portland, people who really ought to know better (links to FB) still claim now and then that biking is a thing for young dudes.

Still, in a town where only 31 percent of people on bikes tend to be female (it’s about 25 percent nationally) we’ve got a long way to go until, as in Germany or the Netherlands, our biking population is evenly split by gender. Portland’s failure to change this ratio for 10 years can be discouraging to people who think everyone deserves to feel welcome on a bike.

That’s why there’s a lot to celebrate in a new report by the League of American Bicyclists that rounds up dozens of statistics about women and bikes. Culled from industry reports, political polls and academic studies, a few of the report’s figures are pretty surprising…

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Outdoor Industry report says recreational cycling pumps $81 billion into U.S. economy each year

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“Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets ($51 billion).”
—The Outdoor Recreation Economy, 2012

The Outdoor Industry Association just released their annual report on The Outdoor Recreation Economy. The report looks at spending on gear and travel for all the major outdoor activities and also calculates the “ripple effect” that spending has on the economy.

Bicycling is one of ten “activity categories” analyzed in the report (along with camping, fishing, hunting, motorcycling, off roading, snow sports, trail sports, water sports and wildlife viewing.)

According to the report, Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets ($51 billion). That $81 billion is spread between $10 billion on bikes, gear, and accessories and over $70 billion on bicycle “trip related sales.” The direct economic impact of that spending supports 772,146 jobs. The report claims that the “ripple effect spending” of all this bicycling activity is over $198 billion and supports 1,478,475 jobs.

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Metro report: Road carnage costs region more than congestion

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Arterials kill.

Using ODOT traffic crash data and their own data on transportation infrastructure Metro’s State of Safety report has found that roadway collisions cost our region $958 million a year — that’s significantly more than congestion.

The report also lays bare one of the nagging issues for local transportation planners and a central theme of the Mayor Sam Adams administration: Portland’s large, multi-lane arterials are unsafe. In what report authors refer to as one of the “most conclusive relationships” in the study, they found that a disproportionate amount of the serious crashes in our region occur on arterial roads.

Streets like Tualatin Valley Highway, 82nd Ave, SE Powell, McLoughlin Blvd (in Clackamas County) have much higher rates of fatalities and serious injuries than neighborhood streets or even freeways.

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New Oregon Trauma System report reveals toll of road injuries

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Cover of report

A new report (PDF) released by the Oregon Health Authority reveals important data about the 18,131 Oregonians who went through the trauma injury system between 2010 and 2011.

The report provides an important analysis of both biking and driving injuries. Of all the injury “mechanisms” tracked in the report, traffic crashes were the leading culprit. (Falls were close behind in total number of injuries and they were the leading cause of deaths.) In addition to the data, the report’s authors have shared a list of recommendations to help lower the rate of traumatic injury in Oregon.

Before I share some of the findings, keep in mind that this data only applies to patients that went through the Oregon Trauma System, a network of 50 hospitals (44 are in Oregon, the others are in Idaho, Washington, and California). This data does not include people who were not transported to the hospital, people who were declared dead at the scene, those who refused care, and those who were treated at a non-trauma hospital. For context, trauma injuries make up roughly half of all hospitalized injuries.

That being said, let’s get into the numbers…

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The state of cycling: Alliance for Biking & Walking releases ‘2012 Benchmarking Report’

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Cover of the report

The Alliance for Biking & Walking, a non-profit coalition made up of 180 member organizations across the country, released its 2012 Benchmarking Report today. Full of statistics and charts, the 243 page report provides a window into our nation’s progress in promoting non-motorized transportation; and the numbers — on everything from the economic to health benefits of bicycling — make a compelling case for more investment. The report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (along with support from AARP and Planet Bike) and it focuses on all 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities.

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New report shows regional paths are key bicycle transportation corridors

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Shared path Waterfront Park-1

The Waterfront path is the busiest in
the entire region.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Metro has released its “2011 Trail Use Snapshot” report. The report (PDF here) is an analysis of local trail usage data complied by the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project from 2008 to 2010.

Among the 25 multi-use paths (I prefer that term to trails) that were part of the analysis, several of them are key transportation routes for bicycling in and around Portland. In fact, the survey data (gleaned from 3,012 completed forms) makes a compelling case that paths like the Eastbank Esplanade, the Springwater on the Willamette, and the Waterfront Path are crucial bicycle transportation corridors.

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Report: U.S. lags way behind other countries in reducing traffic deaths

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Study says U.S. traffic officials are too
willing to accept the carnage.
(Photo: Oregon State Police)

A landmark, 186-page special report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) published this week delivers a critique of U.S. traffic safety efforts and says that we have fallen way behind in saving lives relative to other nations. The report, Achieving Traffic Safety Goals in the United States: Lessons from Other Nations, was published by the National Academies Press and is available as a free PDF download.

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In Wisconsin, bicycling contributes $1.5 billion to economy

Cycle Oregon Day 5 - Glendale to Grants Pass-1

Cycle Oregon participants doing
their part for Oregon’s economy.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Portland and Oregon’s bike economy has gotten a lot of play in the media and in advocacy circles, but the size of our bike economy is peanuts compared to Wisconsin’s. According to a study released today by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, bike-related tourism and industry pumps $1.5 billion to that state’s economy each year.

“Recreational bicycling” had the largest impact, accounting for $924 million. Of that amount, the study says, $533 million is direct spending and $391 million is due to “indirect and induced effects, such as increased purchases of supplies and labor by restaurants and hotels serving cyclists.”

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New report: People on bike, foot are at risk due to lack of investment

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Show me the money.

On the same day President Obama announced $8 billion for high speed rail and “the largest investment in infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System,” a report released today by the non-profit Alliance for Biking and Walking (formerly known as the Thunderhead Alliance) shows that in almost every state and major U.S. city people that walk and bike are at a disproportionate risk of being killed and are more likely to have serious health issues because they receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars.

I know you’re thinking, “Duh, we already knew that!” — but in this country, where biking and walking are still struggling to gain respect as viable modes of transportation, these sort of reports are needed to pressure lawmakers into action and to give advocates and citizens ammunition to push for change.

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