During our year long experiment we lived with one car and as a result discovered the joy of walking the kids to school and walking to work and biking all over town. We stumbled into these things but it turns out there has been an intentional effort initiated by the Department of Transportation since 1994 to increase walking and biking as an alternative to car trips.
Recognizing the decline in walking and bicycling, and the rise in fatalities, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) adopted the first national transportation policy in 1994 to “increase use of bicycling, and encourage planners and engineers to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian needs in designing transportation facilities for urban and suburban areas, and increase pedestrian safety through public information and improved crosswalk design, signaling, school crossings, and sidewalks.”
They have just issued their 15 year status report that includes the following informative charts;
The first overall goal of the National Bicycling and Walking Study was to double the percentage of trips made by bicycling and walking. At the time of the original study’s publication, results from the 1990 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) showed that only 7.9 percent of all reported trips were taken by foot (7.2 percent) or bike (0.7 percent). Thus, the goal was set to reach the point where 15.8 percent of all reported trips were taken by at least one of these two modes.
According to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), walking trips accounted for 10.9 percent of all trips reported, while one percent of all trips reported were taken by bike. Together, the two modes account for 11.9 percent of all reported trips. While those percentages do not meet the National goal, they do reflect some progress toward meeting it. Both reported bicycling and walking trips have increased by 25 percent since the 2001 NHTS. 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 4 billion reported trips during the same time period. However, due to an increase in population, and therefore an increase in the overall number of trips, the percentages of trips by walking and bicycling have not met the original goals.
It looks like real progress is being made but there is a long way to go. Check out Bike to Work Spokane for a local effort to increase the number of bike trips in our region.