FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATA RELEASED FROM GROUNDBREAKING NONMOTORIZED TRANSPORTATION PILOT PROGRAM
Congress gets first look at fruits of bike and pedestrian infrastructure experiment
(PDF, 27.4 KB)
WASHINGTON, D.C. Since the nation's first-ever experiment to gauge the impact of concentrated investment in biking and walking infrastructure in America was launched in 2007, lawmakers and transportation planners have been awaiting this moment the publication of the project data evaluating the real impact of this infrastructure on communities.
Now, the numbers are in—and data counts reveal a more positive impact than even the program's most ardent advocates anticipated.
The U.S. Congress last week was handed the statistical analysis of the first three years of the groundbreaking Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP), which dedicated $25 million to each of four communities across the country to accurately demonstrate whether such investments equate to significantly higher levels of walking and bicycling, and a reduction in vehicle miles traveled.
The report shows that between 2007 and 2010, new multi-use paths, bike lanes, pedestrian routes and trails in the four pilot communitiesMinneapolis, Minn., Sheboygan County, Wis., Marin County, Calif., and Columbia, Mo.resulted in an estimated 32 million driving miles being averted. Non-motorized transportation infrastructure enabled local residents to choose to walk or bike for local trips, reducing traffic congestion and pollution, improving physical activity rates and sharply cutting into time spent driving.
Established and funded by federal transportation legislation SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) in 2005and with management support from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC)NTPP set aside $100 million for biking and walking infrastructure in four communities of varying size across the country.
Counts in the four pilot communities revealed an average increase of 49 percent more bicyclists and 22 percent more pedestrians between 2007 and 2010. The mode shift in these communitieshow many people switched from cars to biking and walking for tripsalso far outstripped the national average for the same period.
"Anecdotally, we have already heard overwhelming evidence of how each community's investment in bike lanes, trails and sidewalks has returned myriad benefits," says Marianne Fowler, RTC's senior vice president of federal relations. "These effects have been hailed by everyone from business leaders and elected officials, to health workers and teachers, across the four pilot communities. It is great to see those outcomes reflected in hard data."
Fowler says that with the evidence now in black and white before them, Congressional representatives across the nation must be compelled to recognize that continued investment in walking in biking represents terrific value for American taxpayers. Multiply the data from these four communities on a national scale, after all, and the results are simply astounding.
"These are not all typical, bike-friendly cities," Fowler says. "These four communities represent a solid cross-section of America. Even in places like Sheboygan, which doesn't have urban density, has cold winters, and has had almost no experience with biking and walking initiatives in the past, locals have rapidly become champions because they have seen the real-time effects, the actual benefits to their community. The incongruous thing is that Congress, with a simple, low-cost solution to so many transportation problems right here in front of them, can't see the people for the cars."
Kevin Mills, RTC's vice president of policy and trail development, says that even though the findings of this report are already compelling, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
"By every measure, this program has been a raging success for these four communities," Mills says. "Changes in behavior related to infrastructure take years to emerge, as bike paths and trails and sidewalks become familiar parts of people's daily lives. That we are already seeing such significant increases in biking and walking in these communities is encouraging. But it is just the beginning of the amazing shift in travel behavior that we expect to see."
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with more than 150,000 members and supporters, is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's national office is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.railstotrails.org.