The Status of Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.
Government officials working to promote bicycling and walking need data to evaluate their efforts. In order to improve something, there must be a means to measure it. The Alliance for Biking & Walking’s Benchmarking Project is an ongoing effort to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and the 51 largest cities. They have now prepared the third biennial Benchmarking Report which is 248 pages long. The first report was published in 2007, the second in 2010, and the next report is scheduled for January 2014.
WHERE ARE THE MOST NON-VEHICLE COMMUTERS?
According to the report, the top ten cities where the most people commute by bike or on foot are: 1. Alaska 2. Vermont 3. New York 4. Montana 5. Oregon 6. Hawaii 7. Massachusetts 8. South Dakota 9. Wyoming 10. Maine. The number one position, Alaska, indicates it is the state with the highest share of commuters who commute by bicycle or foot. The cities who ranked highest in commuting by bike and on foot are: 1. Boston 2. Washington, DC 3. San Francisco 4. Seattle 5. New York 6. Portland, OR 7. Minneapolis 8. Philadelphia 9. Honolulu 10. New Orleans.
Missouri ranked 40th out of the 50 states in the levels of commuting by bike or on foot.
This information comes from the 2007-2009 ACS Notes: This ranking is based on the combined bike and walk to work share from the 2007-2009 ACS. View graphs illustrating this data on pages 34 and 35 of the Benchmark Report.
WHICH IS THE SAFEST STATE FOR A COMMUTER BY BIKE OR ON FOOT?
This is difficult to determine, but one statistic to consider is the number of fatalities per population commuting by walking or biking to work. The arguably safest state based on fatality statistics is Vermont. The top safest states rank as follows: 1. Vermont 2. Nebraska 3. Alaska 4. Wyoming 5. South Dakota 6. North Dakota 7. Iowa 8. Maine 9. Massachusetts 10. Minnesota. See FARS 2007-2009 ACS 2007-2009. Note that this ranking is based on the fatality rate which is calculated by dividing the number of annual pedestrian and bicycle fatalities (averaged between 2007-2009) by population (weighted, or multiplied, by share of the population walking and bicycling to work). View these data on pages 56-62 of this report.
Illinois ranked in the top half of lowest fatalities/population commuting by bike/foot at 23rd,
but Missouri was in the 34th position.
The top twelve cities who ranked the safest based on the fatality statistics are as follows: 1. Boston 2. Minneapolis 3. Omaha 4. Seattle 5. Portland, OR 6. Washington, DC 7. New York 8, San Francisco 9. Philadelphia 10. Honolulu 11. Colorado Springs 12. Chicago. Kansas City, MO ranked 45th and St. Louis did not make the list because this report focuses on the 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities. Most bicycling and walking is in urban areas, and because of short trip distances, the most potential for increasing bicycling and walking is in cities.
Summary of Additional Facts From the Report
Bicycling and Walking Levels:
12% of all trips are by bicycle (1.0%) or foot (10.5%).
From 2000 to 2009, the number of commuters who bicycle to work increased by 57%.
In 2009, 40% of trips in the United States were shorter than 2 miles, yet Americans use their cars for 87% of trips 1 to 2 miles. Twenty-seven percent of trips are shorter than 1 mile, yet 62% of trips up to 1 mile long are by car. Residents of the largest U.S. cities are 1.7 times more likely to walk or bicycle to work than the national average.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety:
14% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are bicyclists (1.8%) or pedestrians (11.7%).
In the 51 largest U.S. cities, 12.7% of trips are by foot and 1.1% are by bicycle, yet 26.9% of traffic fatalities are pedestrians and 3.1% are bicyclists
Seniors are the most vulnerable bicyclists and pedestrians. Adults over 65 make up 10% of walking trips, yet comprise 19% of pedestrian fatalities and make up 6% of bicycling trips, yet account for and 10% of bicyclist fatalities.
Funding for Bicycling and Walking:
• States spend just 1.6% of their federal transportation dollars on bicycling and walking. This amounts to just $2.17 per capita.
Missouri was ranked 17th out of the 50 states in funding bicycling and walking.
This ranking is based on the per capita spending of federal funds by states and cities on bicycling and walking using a 5-year average (2006-2010). Data is based on funds obligated to projects in this period and are not necessarily the amount spent in these years. The number one position, again Alaska, indicates the state with the highest amount of per capita federal funding to bicycling and walking. View these data on pages 86-87 of this report.
Here are some additional facts about financial benefits from the extensive report:
Public Health Benefits:
• Bicycling and walking levels fell 66% between 1960 and 2009, while obesity levels increased by 156%.
• Between 1966 and 2009, the number of children who bicycled or walked to school fell 75%, while the percentage of obese children rose 276%.
• In general, states with the highest levels of bicycling and walking have the lowest levels of obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), and diabetes and have the greatest percentage of adults who meet the recommended 30-plus minutes per day of physical activity.
• Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects.
• Cost benefit analyses show that up to $11.80 in benefits can be gained for every $1 invested in bicycling and walking.
Download the complete report at: www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org/Benchmarking
Michelle M. Funkenbusch is a cycling advocate and Missouri trial attorney specializing in representing cyclists who have been injured in accidents. Please contact her if you wish for her to speak with your group about the benefits of cycling or if you have been injured in an accident. 314-799-6602. mmf@SaintLouisLegal.com