Alternative Transportation Pilot Boosts Biking 49 Percent



Alternative Transportation Pilot Boosts Biking 49 Percent

According to a recent Greenwire article

A Federal Highway Administration pilot program designed to explore the impact of biking and walking on the transportation load reported that four communities that invested heavily in nonmotorized transportation diverted 32 million driving miles over four years.

The Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program sent roughly $25 million a year to four pilot communities to invest in alternative transportation infrastructure, education and outreach. According to a summary report released this week, the four communities saw a 49 percent increase in the number of bicyclists and a 22 percent increase in pedestrians between 2007 and 2010, as well as a boost in transit ridership.

Over the four-year program, the share of bicycling increased 36 percent, while walking was up 14 percent. Driving mode share, meanwhile, was down by 3 percent over those four years. There were also no negative safety implications, according to the report.

That outpaces the increases in biking and walking in the rest of the country and, according to the FHWA report, shows that greater investment in bike paths, bike racks and sidewalks can mean more travelers will opt for nonmotorized trips.

The change in modes also translated to a savings of 22 pounds of carbon dioxide per person in the last year of the program, the equivalent of 1 gallon of gas per person

It would be great to know what the estimated cost savings (if any) will there be over the lifetime of this infrastructure?  Take all these people out of cars and there should be a noticeable decrease in the amount of wear on road infrastructure.  This is likely the easiest way we can win support for this type of infrastructure investment.


  • Ken Gould
    May 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Mark, great report — thanks for passing along! Just skimmed it, but look forward to reviewing the details.

    The angle that often gets short-changed in these analyses is economic benefit. Health and environmental benefits are certainly noble goals, but folks who could care less about cycling should also be happy to see the improved retail climate and boost to property values that typically accompanies a solid investment in non-motorized transportation infrastructure.

    Hope there's a part 2 to this study with some of that learning.

  • Labann
    May 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Any pure statistics of recent history would be skewed by lack of driven commutes by underemployed/unemployed workforce. Any mention of carfree benefits might mention the fact that motoring is among the most inimical activities against environment and personal health, a root cause for all leading causes of death (cardiovascular diseases from inactivity, cancers from petroleum distilates, car crashes) as well as warfare to secure oil profits. Weaning people away from wanton motoring should be America's #1 priority. Europe's public transportation system, especially trains, is well used. America's suffers from lack of support and vision, mostly because oil interests don't want anything to limit historic profits.

  • Labann
    May 18, 2012 at 11:24 am

    You ought to host a column here on potential roadnet improvements. We can probably skip the obvious lapses of bridge access: Iway, Jamestown, Pell, Sakonnet. Even Point St needs restriping for shoulders. Bad grates and potholes are too frequent to bother. I'm talking about persistent horrors.

    Riding all over all the time, I find all sorts of egregious lapses in roadnet design and implementation specifically as they pertain to cycling, most of which is illegal under the Code of Federal Regulations and integral to state laws.

    I’ll start with a example: The quarter mile or so of Rt-114A from Route 44 in Seekonk North to Rhode Island line has no shoulder. However, a paved widening to correct is easily possible, since there already is a feral soft shoulder along that route, otherwise unusable without pavement. MA has jurisdiction.

    This is especially unfortunate, as cyclists frequently seek out Ledge Avenue, upon which is a school at Arcade Ave, and and Pleasant St, just over the line, a shortcut to Newman Ave. Ironicaly, the RI segment has a better shoulder than MA. I don't think Seekonk is even aware this is a problem.