What Are the Benefits of Active Transportation?
Active transportation offers the promise of improving the health of our people and the places they live.
- Healthy People: America faces an obesity crisis, with more than two-thirds of American adults either overweight or obese. By making walking and biking safe and convenient, we can make it much easier for people to build routine physical activity into their daily lives.
- Healthy Environment: Enabling people to walk or bike for some of their short trips can go a long way in helping our communities efficiently address numerous environmental challenges, from air pollution to climate change.
- Healthy Economy: Active transportation systems also foster economic health by creating dynamic, connected communities with a high quality of life that catalyzes small business development, increases property values, sparks tourism and encourages corporate investment that attracts a talented, highly educated workforce. Active transportation also offers economic benefits to families by providing transportation options that don’t require consuming gasoline at $4 per gallon.
- Mobility for all: Near-universal reliance on the automobile for transportation leaves many people out of the equation, stuck with no way to get around. Children, the elderly, the visually impaired or otherwise physically challenged, those with lower incomes, or those who simply choose to not have access to a car, are among the groups that benefit most when opportunities to safely walk or bicycle are improved.
Is Active Transportation Essential, or Just Nice To Have?
What does it take for something to be considered an “essential” part of what defines a community? Nearly all agree that basic infrastructure like roads, water, sewer systems and schools are integral pieces of the puzzle. Most would also cite community assets like libraries and parks as essential to vibrant communities. One goal of the Partnership for Active Transportation is to bring about a shift in perception in which trails and other safe places for people to walk and bike are more universally understood to be necessary for a successful 21st century community.
Communities certainly can exist without active transportation networks, but they do not function as well. Such communities lack access to free, healthy outdoor activities that save money, provide mobility choices, free up road space, reduce pollution and promote economic vitality.
In other words, for communities to thrive, trails and other safe walking and bicycling opportunities are absolutely essential.