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Human-Powered Transportation is Working in Marin

Posted: 2014-06-30

Increased cycling, walking continue to lower vehicle miles traveled


Continued investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Marin, coupled with outreach programming, has positively affected transportation choices and opportunities. That was the conclusion of the U.S. Department of Transportation in its final report on the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP).


Nonmotorized trips are viewed as critical components of the nation’s surface transportation system and associated impacts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Total vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) in Marin has been reduced by an estimated 7.9 million miles over the course of a year, or nearly 21,634 miles each day – a statistic seen as critical progress by the Marin County Department of Public Works. Reducing VMT is a key factor, along with more efficient automobiles and better fuels, in meeting the nation’s goals of achieving greater energy independence and reducing the impacts of global climate change. 


The federal report revealed that in Marin, since 2007:


·        Bicycling and walking trips have increased 66 percent and 20 percent, respectively, which resulted in 7.7 million fewer vehicle trips annually.

·        Trips shifted to bicycling and walking have saved 1.6 million gallons of fuel and reduced carbon monoxide emissions by 515 tons

·        38.1 million additional nonmotorized trips with a commensurate reduction in driving trips for those over 16, which equates to 37 annual trips per capita countywide

·        WalkBikeMarin, Marin’s implementation of the pilot program, directed funding to 36 infrastructure projects

·        WalkBikeMarin added 24 miles of new facilities for walking and bicycling since 2007, closing gaps and connecting neighborhoods and communities to make walking and bicycling easier for all.


Marin projects funded through the NTPP included the Cal Park Hill Tunnel, Enfrente-Commuter Connection in Novato, Los Ranchitos/Las Gallinas Bike Lanes in San Rafael, and several stairway and sidewalk projects in Mill Valley, Larkspur and Tiburon, among many others. The projects served people of all ages and abilities, and provided safe, convenient places to walk or ride.


“The results show that Pilot Program investments countywide have markedly improved conditions, encouraging bicycling and walking, and that they are viable and healthy alternatives to driving,” said Supervisor Kathrin Sears, President of the Marin County Board of Supervisors.


The report documented the outcomes of the NTPP since it kicked off in 2006. Between the original funding allocation and subsequent extensions of the 2005 federal transportation bill, Marin and the other three pilot communities benefitted with more than $28 million each over eight years to implement a projects and programs to encourage biking and walking. In addition to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, Marin benefitted with traffic congestion relief, low-cost travel alternatives and improved public health.


The other communities included in the national report were: the Minneapolis metropolitan area in Minnesota; Sheboygan County, Wisconsin; and Columbia, Missouri. The report also covered benefits of nonmotorized transportation for each location from the environmental, safety, energy consumption and public health perspectives. The report culminated with lessons learned, best practices and future research opportunities.

A copy of the final report to Congress can be found at

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