Invest in Cycling and Walking to Restore NE Ohio Neighborhoods

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Sun, 01/18/2009 - 16:05.

Northeast Ohio has the opportunity to rebuild our neighborhoods and by offering healthier and more active transportation choices, we can create thriving neighborhoods where people want to live. However, the current transportation network leaves us way behind the curve. New investment to support walking and biking will create pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, an important step to get the nation back on track. Fortunately, it's a cost-effective step we can take in these tight financial times.

 

Transportation investment offers a financial pay-off for everyone. The financial value of improved mobility, fuel savings, greenhouse gas reductions, and health care savings ranges between $10-65 billion, outstripping any public spending costs in creating a bicycling and walking transportation infrastructure. For $50 million, the price of a single mile of a four-lane city highway, hundreds of miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure can be built, completing an entire network of active transportation facilities for a mid-sized city.

Cyclists care about good roads and transportation. No surprise there. Cyclists began the "good roads" movement in the 19th century, before there were cars, calling for quality roads to serve the economy and population of a growing nation.

Today, “Active Transportation,” is an answer to our energy and health needs, promoting walking and bicycling to help people in their daily lives. A new report, “Active Transportation for America” by the leading nonprofit Rails to Trails Conservancy notes that increased federal funding in bicycling and walking infrastructure would provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits, through reduced oil dependence, climate pollution and obesity rates while providing more and better choices for getting around. Here's why:

Creating transportation options to meet people's needs: 50% of the trips in America can be completed with a 20-minute bike ride, and 25% of trips are within a 20-minute walk, yet, the vast majority of these short trips are still taken by car. The more we invest in a transportation infrastructure that encourages cycling and walking, the more people will choose walking, riding and public transportation, leaving the car in the driveway for the bigger trips.

Fuel savings: Modest increases in bicycling and walking could lead to an annual reduction of 70 billion miles of car travel, with higher increases cutting as much as 200 billion miles per year. The decreased auto travel is the same as cutting oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles by 3-8%.

Reducing transportation costs to ease household budgets: For most Americans, transportation is an expense second only to housing, higher than health care, education and food. Even before runaway gas prices, the average American spends 19% of their income on transportation, with households that heavily rely on cars for transportation spending 50% or more. Based on AAA reports of typical transportation costs 56.1cents/ mile and $5 daily parking, typical car commuter costs are more than $11,500/year.

The public wants to bike more and drive less: When asked how they would allocate federal transportation dollars, Americans indicated that they would spend 22% of transportation funding on biking and walking infrastructure—about 15 times what is currently spent. More than 1/3rd of America do not drive, while many households have several adult drivers sharing one car. Our transportation system needs to offer public services to the non-driving public.

Improved health and fitness: A walking and biking transportation infrastructure is a practical way for many to achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Modest increases in bicycling and walking for short trips could provide enough exercise for 50 million inactive Americans to meet recommended activity levels, erasing a sizable chunk of America's activity deficit.

When cycling organizations hosted Cleveland Bicycle Week in May, we surveyed riders. Area cyclists report they would ride more with safer bike lanes, areas free from glass, debris and car doors, far more than those who criticized weather or motorists. Americans deserve transportation options, and will choose to bicycle or walk when they are provided safe and convenient infrastructure that connects the places that matter in their daily lives -- home, work, school, stores and entertainment. Investing in active transportation represents a fiscally responsible step to recreate thriving neighborhoods.

Transportation investment offers a financial pay-off for everyone. The financial value of improved mobility, fuel savings, greenhouse gas reductions, and health care savings ranges between $10-65 billion, outstripping any public spending costs in creating a bicycling and walking transportation infrastructure. For $50 million, the price of a single mile of a four-lane city highway, hundreds of miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure can be built, completing an entire network of active transportation facilities for a mid-sized city.

Cyclists care about good roads and transportation. No surprise there. Cyclists began the "good roads" movement in the 19th century, before there were cars, calling for quality roads to serve the economy and population of a growing nation.

Today, “Active Transportation,” is an answer to our energy and health needs, promoting walking and bicycling to help people in their daily lives. A new report, “Active Transportation for America” by the leading nonprofit Rails to Trails Conservancy notes that increased federal funding in bicycling and walking infrastructure would provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits, through reduced oil dependence, climate pollution and obesity rates while providing more and better choices for getting around. Here's why:

Creating transportation options to meet people's needs: 50% of the trips in America can be completed with a 20-minute bike ride, and 25% of trips are within a 20-minute walk, yet, the vast majority of these short trips are still taken by car. The more we invest in a transportation infrastructure that encourages cycling and walking, the more people will choose walking, riding and public transportation, leaving the car in the driveway for the bigger trips.

Fuel savings: Modest increases in bicycling and walking could lead to an annual reduction of 70 billion miles of car travel, with higher increases cutting as much as 200 billion miles per year. The decreased auto travel is the same as cutting oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles by 3-8%.

Reducing transportation costs to ease household budgets: For most Americans, transportation is an expense second only to housing, higher than health care, education and food. Even before runaway gas prices, the average American spends 19% of their income on transportation, with households that heavily rely on cars for transportation spending 50% or more. Based on AAA reports of typical transportation costs 56.1cents/ mile and $5 daily parking, typical car commuter costs are more than $11,500/year.

The public wants to bike more and drive less: When asked how they would allocate federal transportation dollars, Americans indicated that they would spend 22% of transportation funding on biking and walking infrastructure—about 15 times what is currently spent. More than 1/3rd of America do not drive, while many households have several adult drivers sharing one car. Our transportation system needs to offer public services to the non-driving public.

Improved health and fitness: A walking and biking transportation infrastructure is a practical way for many to achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Modest increases in bicycling and walking for short trips could provide enough exercise for 50 million inactive Americans to meet recommended activity levels, erasing a sizable chunk of America's activity deficit.

When cycling organizations hosted Cleveland Bicycle Week in May, we surveyed riders. Area cyclists report they would ride more with safer bike lanes, areas free from glass, debris and car doors, far more than those who criticized weather or motorists. Americans deserve transportation options, and will choose to bicycle or walk when they are provided safe and convenient infrastructure that connects the places that matter in their daily lives -- home, work, school, stores and entertainment. Investing in active transportation represents a fiscally responsible step to recreate thriving neighborhoods.