The Alliance Benchmarking Report
In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, the Alliance publishes the biennial Benchmarking Report to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states, the 51 largest U.S. cities, and a select number of midsized cities. The Report combines original research with over 20 government data sources to report data on bicycling and walking levels and demographics, safety, funding, policies, infrastructure, education, public health indicators, and economic impacts. It's an essential go-to resource for public officials, advocates, decisionmakers, and researchers.
The 2014 Benchmarking Report will be released on April 16, 2014. Reserve your print or digital copy here.
2012 Benchmarking Report
Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2012 Benchmarking Report is an essential resource that shows how states and cities compare on active transportation. The report provides unprecedented statistics to help support increasing safe bicycling and walking.
Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2012 Benchmarking Report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through the additional support of AARP and Planet Bike. Order copies of the 2012 report here.
See below for a summary of key findings in the 2012 Benchmarking Report.
A Public Health Crisis... and Opportunity
Increasing bicycling and walking are goals that are clearly in the public interest. This is especially true when it comes to public health. Higher levels of bicycling and walking coincide with higher levels of physical activity: states where more people bike or walk to work are also the states where adults are more likely to fulfill the recommended 30 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
Lack of physical activity has major negative implications for overall health. Even just 30 minutes per day of a simple activity like walking or bicycling can decrease an individual's chance of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
Indeed, the Benchmarking Report found that states where more people bike and walk are also the states where citizens are less likely to have diabetes.
Lack of physical is closely liked to obesity and associated health issues. The 2012 Benchmarking Report found a strong reverse correlation between statewide levels of walking and bicycling to work and levels of obesity.
States with more active commuting (higher proportions of people biking and walking to work) have lower levels of obesity.
Since 1960, the percentage of kids who walk or bike to school and adults who walk or bike to work has dropped dramatically - due in part to the increasingly common trend of designing communities primarily for automobile transportation. Over the same time period, the percentage of children and adults who are obese has increased rapidly.
These health statistics illustrate a clear problem - and suggest a solution. As Americans have become increasingly dependent on automobile travel, fewer people travel on foot or by bicycle for everyday transportation. But by investing in making walking and bicycling safe, comfortable, and accessible to more people, American communities can encourage active transportation to increase physical activity levels and boost public health.
A Need for Greater Federal Investment
The United States has invested heavily in improving the transportation system for automobile travel while spending little on building facilities for biking and walking. From 2006 to 2010, less than 2% of federal transportation dollars went towards active transportation projects and programs.
The United States overall has great disparities between bicycling and walking mode share, safety, and funding. Twelve percent of trips are by bicycle or foot, yet bicyclists and pedestrians make up 14% of traffic fatalities and receive just 1.6% of federal transportation dollars.
The United States only spends $2.17 per resident on bicycling. By comparison, cities with the highest rates of bicycling - both in the U.S. and abroad - spend $3, $6, or even upwards of $30 per resident. These data provide strong evidence that in order to increase bicycling and walking, the United States must invest significantly more in these modes.
Biking and Walking are Growing at the Local Level
Despite relatively low levels of federal spending, the amount of bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure in the United States has increased. Since the 2010 Benchmarking Report, there has been a 29% increase in bicycle facilities in the largest U.S. cities.
Many states and communities have passed complete streets policies - directives that stipulate that new road construction and major repaving projects are safe and acccesible for walking, biking, transit, and driving.
As of September 2011, 26 states and 18 of the 51 largest U.S. cities have adopted complete streets policies. This is up from 2007 when just 10 states and 8 of the 51 cities had adopted policies.
Boosting Biking and Walking Safety
Many Americans hold a strong preconception that walking and bicycling can be dangerous activities. The Benchmarking report shows that while bicyclists and pedestrians represent disporportionately high proportions of traffic fatalities - especially in certain demographics - it is also true that when more people bike and walk, there are fewer biking and walking fatalities.
In other words, higher levels of walking correlate with lower levels of pedestrian fatalities. States where more people walk to work tend to see more pedestrian fatalities per thousand residents. The same is true for biking levels and bicyclist fatalities.
These data sugget that, perhaps counterintuitively, the best thing a state can do to lower the fatality rate for bicycling and walking is to encourage more people to bicycle and walk.
Perhaps the best way to encourage more people to travel by bicycle is constructing bicycle facilities. The 2012 Benchmarking Report found that in major cities, people are more likely to travel by bike if there are comfortable facilities for riding.
Perhaps the single best determinent of bicycling and walking levels, though, is density. Denser cities - communities where people are more likely to live close to where they shop and work - tend to see more biking and walking.
Many states and cities are making progress toward promoting safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians, but much more remains to be done.
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