Biking

DOT: More People Pedaling, Walking

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released new data from the Federal Highway Administration’s 2009 National Household Travel Survey which shows that both bicycling and walking trips have increased by 25 percent since 2001. The FHWA funded Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center included this data in The National Bicycling and Walking Study: A 15-Year Status Report. The report details trends and changes in bicycling and walking since 1994.

“This report demonstrates what we’ve been saying here at the department,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Americans want and need safe alternatives to driving. And by making biking and walking safer and more accessible, we’ll be able to provide Americans with more choices and help foster more active, livable communities.”

LaHood recently announced a policy change to promote bicycle and pedestrian opportunities that encourage transportation agencies to go beyond minimum standards and provide safe and convenient facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.

In the 1994 National Bicycling and Walking Study, DOT established two goals: to reduce the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed or injured in traffic crashes by 10 percent and to double the percentage of total trips made by bicycling and walking in the United States.

From 1993 to 2008, bicycle fatalities decreased by 22.3 percent and injuries decreased by 14.7 percent, and pedestrian fatalities dropped by 12 percent and injuries dropped by 17.8 percent, surpassing the goal in the 1994 report. However, in 2008, there were 4,378 pedestrians and 716 bicyclists killed in roadway crashes which indicates that there is still work to be done to make walking and bicycling safer and more convenient transportation options.

The number of reported walking trips has more than doubled since the first survey, from 18 billion in 1990 to 42.5 billion in 2009. Bicycling trips saw a similar increase, from 1.7 billion to four billion during the same period. While percentage increase in bicycle and pedestrian trips didn’t fully meet the goal, the report also noted the population increase resulted in a greater number of overall trips and that progress is being made.

“We are proud of the work we’ve done to integrate walking and bicycling into people’s transportation options,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “But we won’t stop working until we find ways to prevent fatalities and create more livable communities across the country.”

The full report can be accessed at http://www.walkinginfo.org/15_year_report/.

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