June 18, 2010
New data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that both bicycling and walking trips have increased by 25 percent since 2001.
The FHWA's 2009 National Household Travel Survey, "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.
Biking and walking injuries
In the 1994 National Bicycling and Walking Study, the U.S. Department of Transportation (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 fell by 22.3 percent and injuries were down by 14.7 percent. 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.
Out of their cars
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 National Bicycling and Walking Study: A 15-Year Status Report is a status update to the 1994 National Bicycling and Walking Study. The new report looks at progress toward goals outlined in the original study and outlines federal, state and local programs that promote bicycle and walking throughout the country.