Resounding New Evidence: America Wants Biking and Walking in Transportation Future

Posted 05/10/12 by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Policy, Trail Use

Photo of downtown Alpena, Mich © Michigan Municipal League

These days the question of whether America's transportation funding should support the development of bike and pedestrian infrastructure is often framed as a political issue, as if these facilities only benefit particular demographics or parties.

But a national poll released this week found that 83 percent of all respondents support maintaining or growing the federal funding streams that enable active transportation--sidewalks, bikeways, trails and bike paths.

The poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and promoted by America Bikes, reveals that regardless of their political affiliation or where they live, a great majority of Americans believe walking and biking is an important part of the nation's transportation future.

The poll found that:

  • 80 percent of Republican respondents and 88 percent of Democrat respondents think Congress should maintain or increase federal funds for biking and walking.
  • 85 percent of Northeastern respondents, 79 percent of Midwesterners, 84 percent of Southerners, and 84 percent of respondents from Western states reported support for maintaining or increasing funding for sidewalks and bikeways.
  • 91 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 support continuing or increasing biking and walking funds.
Photo of bike racks outside a school in Alpine, Utah © Cherissa Wood

Overall, the study found that people walk and bike for non-recreational purposes in small towns and rural areas at comparable rates to big cities. These findings have plenty of other research to back them up. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) recently published study, Active Transportation Beyond Urban Centers,highlighted U.S. Department of Transportation research that found the share of work trips made by bicycle in small towns is nearly double that of urban centers. 

So from farming communities to major metropolitan centers, from East to West, North to South, Americans are hungry for more investment in walking and biking infrastructure. 

The timing for these latest numbers is extremely fortuitous, as a special conference in the U.S. Congress is right now negotiating the re-authorization of the next federal transportation bill. This new poll provides fresh evidence for these policymakers to consider while determining the priorities of our transportation future! 

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