"Only In Marin" Takes On Historical New Meaning
For Bicyclists & Pedestrians
We’ve reported Marin’s bicycling and pedestrian activities and data to you since the inception of the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) in 2007. In this Special Edition of the June eNewsletter, you’ll see the recent Federal Report featuring NTPP’s investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure positively affecting transportation opportunities and choices in Marin, with a 64% increase in bicycling trips and a 21% increase in walking trips between 2007 and 2010. You’ll also find newspaper articles and commentaries from 4th District Supervisor, Steve Kinsey, and the United States Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, celebrating the success of the County of Marin’s NTPP and its award-winning achievements.
Golden Gate Bridge
From a local perspective, Marin County’s Department of Public Works has proved that ‘if you build it, they will come.’* From a national perspective, we’ve proved that investing in safe, well-constructed multi-use pathways is not only wise, but now visitors and residents alike can bank on the sustainable, feasible non-motorized access to Marin’s popular locations.
The County of Marin’s NTPP has paved the way for other American communities follow our progressive lead in providing pleasurable, viable paths of travel found “Only In Marin.”
* Field of Dreams is a 1989 film about an Iowa corn farmer who hears a voice telling him: "If you build it, he will come." He interprets this as an instruction to build a baseball diamond in his fields; after he does, Shoeless Joe Jackson and other dead baseball players emerge from the cornfields to play ball.
Bicyclists & Pedestrians are Part of the Transportation Solution
Federal Pilot Communities Report Shows More Bicycling and Walking,
Less Driving, and Increased Climate Benefits in Marin Transportation
It is confirmed: Investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and outreach programming can positively affect transportation choices and opportunities, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in its final report to Congress on the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP). The nonmotorized trips covered in the report are viewed as critical components of the nation’s surface transportation system and associated impacts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Enfrente Road ‘Commuter Connection’, Novato
The federal report reveals that in Marin, since 2007:
- Bicycling and walking trips have increased 64.4% and 21.0%, respectively
- Driving trips decreased 4.7%
- 9,688,800 additional annual nonmotorized trips with a commensurate reduction in driving trips = 47.6 annual trips per person over age 16
- 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 2006, closing gaps and connecting neighborhoods and communities to make walking and bicycling easier for all.
Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey explains, “The huge numbers of people that have moved from their use of the automobile to walking and bicycling for everyday transportation is validation that investment in bicycling and walking infrastructure is sound and also a benefit to congestion issues, public health issues, community character and connectivity to transit.”
Of critical importance is the fact that these levels of non-motorized transportation has reduced total vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) in Marin by an estimated 18.9 million miles over the course of a year, or nearly 51,900 miles each day. Such a VMT reduction is an essential ingredient, along with improved automobiles and fuels, in meeting the nation’s goals of fighting global warming and achieving greater energy independence.
This report fulfills the intent of Congress when they established the NTPP in 2005. Between the original funding allocation and subsequent extensions of the 2005 federal transportation bill, Marin County and the other three pilot communities have benefitted with over $28 million each over six years to implement a comprehensive set of projects and programs to encourage biking and walking. In addition to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, additional benefits found in the report include congestion relief, low-cost travel alternatives and improved public health.
Marin projects funded through the NTPP include the Cal Park Hill Tunnel, Enfrente, Novato Commuter Connection, and Los Ranchitos Connector in San Rafael, among many others. These projects serve people of all ages and abilities, and provide safe, convenient places to walk or ride.
The report chronicles program mobilization and launch, including active public involvement; project and program delivery, “Implementation Challenges” encountered, and results from data collected over the course of the program. Also discussed are “Plans for Implementation”—projects that will build out the seamless network of biking and walking facilities and the education and promotion programs that will encourage travelers to shift to walking and biking for their everyday transportation needs.
The report includes lessons learned and best practices that can be used by other communities, and will provide benefits for years to come nationwide on transportation policy.
A copy of the final report to congress can be found at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/ntpp/2012_report/
. As the program has benefitted from funding through continuation of the federal transportation bill, it has enabled additional projects and outreach to be undertaken. Data will be collected again this fall and a report generated in 2013 to further demonstrate the outcomes and benefits of the NTPP.
In the meantime, progress can be monitored and additional information on the local program can be found here, within www.walkbikemarin.org
Bike-Ped Program Walks The Walk
Uploaded: Thursday, May 3, 2012, 3:43 PM
A report released last week confirms the supposition that bicycle and pedestrian transportation should take their rightful place as integral components of a nationwide transportation future.
The report was the culmination of the multi-year Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program. Part of the 2005 federal transportation bill, the program identified four communities across the country in which to test a supposition: Would investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure help spur what transportation types call a "mode shift?" It did.
Marin Transit Center, San Rafael
The Federal Highway Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, delivered the report to Congress last week. It includes data collected since 2007 in each of the four pilot communities, Columbia, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Sheboygan County, Wisconsin; and Marin. Each of the demographically diverse communities received about $30 million to develop their nonmotorized transportation infrastructures.
According to the report that Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood delivered to leadership in the House and Senate transportation committees, a requirement mandated by Congress, "an estimated 16 million miles were walked or bicycled that would have otherwise been driven in 2010, and an estimated 32 million driving miles were averted between 2007 and 2010."
Counts taken in each of the four communities revealed an average increase of 49 percent in the number of bicyclists and a 22 percent increase in the number of pedestrians between 2007 and 2010. While bicycle riding and walking have increased across the country, as the number of driving miles has decreased, the mode shift has been more pronounced in the pilot communities. According to the report, "The pilot communities saved an estimated 22 pounds of carbon dioxide in 2010 per person or a total of 67,701 tons. This is the equivalent to saving 1 gallon of gas per person or nearly 1.7 million gallons from 2007 to 2010."
As impressive as the average numbers are for the four communities, in many respects Marin beat the averages. The county public works department estimates that during the pilot program, bicycling trips increased 64.4 percent; walking trips increased 21 percent. And while bicycling and walking increased, driving decreased by 4.7 percent. Those percentages translate to some impressive numbers when looking at miles traveled during the program. Vehicular travel in the county declined by an estimated 18.9 million miles over the course of a year, or nearly 51,900 miles each day. Those numbers translate to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. In addition to reducing vehicular miles, the report points out, increased bicycling and walking improves public health. The tangibles as well as intangibles were the target of the pilot program and the data collection that ended up in the final report.
On May 1, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood wrote on his blog, "I want to thank the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, [and the Department of Transportation's] Volpe National Transportation Systems Center for their help with this eye-opening report on the value of investing in nonmotorized transportation. The pilot program demonstrates that education and engineering can work together to make bicycling more convenient and safer. And, particularly for shorter trips, that adds another great transportation option to the mix.
Nonmotorized transportation advocates have long pushed for transportation plans, from the national, state and local levels, that treat bicycle and pedestrian modes as important parts of the transportation infrastructure. That view is an integral part of the Complete Streets paradigm that calls for considering bicycle and pedestrian access and infrastructure whenever a street is built or altered. In Marin, "We have a policy where we look at all modes of travel on every project, not just big projects," says Craig Tackabery, Marin's assistant director of public works. Towns in the county have similar street-planning regimes.
Tackabery and two Marin supervisors were instrumental in getting Marin on the list of four pilot communities. The most instrumental local bicycle advocate was Deb Hubsmith, the former advocacy director at the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. "After congress selected the four communities and allocated funding in August 2005," she says, "one of the things that was most important to me was making sure we had a way to link all four communities together with the Federal Highway Administration to make sure we were developing a national program that would result in consistent data collection and evaluation and lessons learned that could be implemented nationwide."
As impressive as the individual results in the pilot program are, the numbers can overshadow the real intent of the pilot program: to serve as a roadmap of where the country can go with a commitment to nonmotorized transportation. "From its inception, the pilot program was designed as a demonstration program to gather statistical information on transportation mode share shifts before and after implementation of nonmotorized transportation infrastructure and educational or promotional programs," the report states. "The program was intended to demonstrate the extent to which bicycling and walking can carry a significant part of the transportation load, and represent a major portion of the transportation solution, within selected communities."
A meeting in December 2005 launched the program from a practical perspective. The county Board of Supervisors had appointed former Supervisor Charles McGlashan and Supervisor Steve Kinsey to take the lead for county representation, along with Tackabery. Each of the four pilot communities sent a delegation to fashion the pilot program. The two supervisors, Hubsmith, as well as representatives from Caltrans and the local office of the Federal Highway Administration formed the Marin delegation.
Hubsmith says one of the most significant elements in the formation process was the creation of a working group. Members of the group, representing each of the four communities, met via conference calls on Monday mornings twice a month for six years, says Hubsmith. The group still meets. Hubsmith has moved on to lead Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The last task she undertook as a representative of the Bicycle Coalition was the pilot program report submitted to the Federal Highway Administration. That was accomplished last summer. It's taken nearly a year to make it out the other side of the report-submission process.
Nonmotorized transportation advocates hope the report will inform members of congressional transportation committees with proof that investments in bicycling and walking can play a practical and positive role in the nation's transportation infrastructure. Conservative Republicans have consistently cast a cold eye on nonmotorized transportation, viewing it as a luxury, a view proponents of bicycling and walking say the report should dispel. Amid threats to kill funding for alternative transportation, Republicans have at times held nonmotorized transportation funding hostage to political goals such as pushing the Keystone Pipeline.
The report shows that the funding provided for the pilot program accelerated the mode shift to nonmotorized transportation more than a general national increase in bicycling and walking. "This is an important time for sending a message as Congress is heading into conference to decide on a transportation bill during the week of May 7," says Hubsmith. "Bicycling and walking is an important strategy for reducing traffic, improving health and building community." (May is National Bike Month.)
But whether the Republicans will end their hesitance to categorize nonmotorized transportation as frivolous remains to be seen. Supervisor Susan Adams, who is running for Congress, says, "It will be difficult" to break the Republican roadblock on a substantive basis without a Democratic majority in the House. "But I don't think anything is impossible. I think when you show the data and show how you're addressing building healthier communities, and when the public is asking for it, I think it can start building momentum." Adams, with her nursing background and her personal dedication to bicycle riding, adds that "building active lifestyle communities" improves health and also targets climate change. "It's a win-win." The report, she says, confirms what nonmotorized transportation advocates believe: "When you make it safe for people to be out on their feet and on their bicycles," they will use the infrastructure. "If you build it, they will come."
When Congress created the pilot program, the legislation left out one essential element. It included no dedicated money to collect data or a process to evaluate it. The legislation said in effect, "Here's some money; you figure out what to do with it." The four communities decided to collaborate on data collection, says Tackabery, and take a share of the funding allocation to spend on data. "We decided to do fewer projects and contribute toward the data." A technical advisory committee in Marin helped set priorities for projects in the local pilot program.
WalkBikeMarin, a county agency formed to implement local projects, helped fund 34 infrastructure improvements. About 25 miles of new sidewalks and paths resulted from the influx of pilot program money. The addition made serious contributions to closing gaps in the north-south pathway as well as the bike lanes that run east-west from San Rafael to Fairfax. The pilot program funds also helped long-term planning.
One of the most significant projects in East Marin is the Cal Park Hill tunnel, which connects San Rafael and Larkspur, where it comes above ground to connect eventually with a project to reach the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. The $27.7-million tunnel was completed in December 2010 with the help of $2.5 million in pilot program funds. The pilot program contribution "was a critical last piece of funding to begin construction of the project," according to the report, which highlights the tunnel as a key link of regional significance because of its proximity to the ferries. From September 2010 to May 2011, there was "a fourfold increase in weekday bicyclists."
Although the county has seen a steady and dramatic increase in bicycling and walking since it first started collecting data in 1999, the increases during the pilot program prove, say nonmotorized transportation proponents, that investing in infrastructure can boost alternative transportation. Nonmotorized projects elsewhere in the country, most notably in Portland, show that use increases as people learn about new infrastructure. Longer-term use numbers could top those in the report. "People change their behavior slowly," says Tackabery. "People are still asking us where the Cal Park Hill Tunnel is, and there's been plenty of publicity on that." After using a new project for recreation, bicyclists, for instance, will eventually use it for utilitarian trips.
The data collect from the four counties was submitted to the Federal Highway Transportation Administration for official review. But Kim Baenisch knows from experience that big changes have taken place in Marin. She's the executive director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. From her Fairfax office she looks out on Center Boulevard. "I have been astonished over the last four or five years at the volume of cyclists I see every day all year long. And what is exciting is to see the great variety of cyclists. It's no longer just the very fit, kit-wearing, 100-mile riders. I see cyclists of all ages, of all body shapes and sizes, people just riding for local errands, to see friends. It's been a wonderful change." Baenisch says she also sees that kind of diverse bicycle demographic where she lives in San Rafael.
Steve Kinsey says Marin "leveraged" the county's commitment to Safe Routes to School, to get a leg up on the pilot program. The county and its towns maintain bicycle master plans; the countywide plan sets a target of 20 percent nonmotorized transportation trips by 2020. The county is within reach of that target. Kinsey says that all helped Marin demonstrate a commitment before seeking the federal money.
"I am pleased with the report," he says. "I'm glad we invested a portion of the funds in measuring and tracking because I think we're helping to make a case for the entire country that investing in biking and walking can actually change travel patterns while also improving health and reducing congestion."
Seidman, Peter. "Bike-ped Program Walks the Walk." Pacificsun.com. Pacificsun.com, 3 May 2012. Web. 1 June 2012.
Federal Bike Pilot Pays Off With Results
Marin Independent Journal Editorial
Posted: 05/08/2012 06:19:00 AM PDT
MORE PEOPLE are getting around Marin by bike and on foot thanks to the significant improvements made by a federal pilot program.
Marin is one of four communities nationwide that shared equal parts of the four-year $100 million Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program. The money was used for projects, planning and promotion aimed at getting people to ride a bike or walk, instead of jumping in a car.
Bicycle Route 5, Alameda del Prado, Novato
Matched with local money, the pilot helped make projects such as the Cal Park Hill tunnel possible. It also helped pay for bike and pedestrian path improvements in San Rafael's Canal area and a new path along Alameda del Prado in Novato.
These improvements closed gaps and provided safer routes that made it a lot easier for people to ride a bike to work and for an errand.
The results of these investments?
A county survey of bike riders and pedestrians around the county showed that more people were more likely to leave their cars parked at home. Certainly, $4-per-gallon gasoline is a contributing factor.
For instance, a comparison of counts taken during two hours in 2007 to those in 2010 showed an increase of about 2,000 bike riders across Marin. Over that period, the number of pedestrians counted during those two-hour periods also rose more than 2,000, according to the county count.
The survey also indicated that there was a 4.7 percent reduction in automobile traffic in the 2010 count.
Compared to other communities in the pilot — Columbia, Mo.; Sheboygan County, Wisc., and Minneapolis — Marin showed the largest four-year increase in people choosing their bikes or walking and leaving the cars in the garage.
The Alameda del Prado bike and pedestrian path, for example, provided bike riders with a much safer route through the south end of Novato and to the bike path over St. Vincent's Hill.
The improvement added a continuous bike path and eliminated dangerous "pinch" points where bike riders were forced to steer closer to vehicular traffic. In a short period, the number of bike riders using the route has grown to more than 30 per hour — a six-fold increase.
Pilot money has been set aside for three other projects, bike lane improvements between Mission Avenue and the transit center in San Rafael, the Central Marin freeway improvement project and safer bike lanes along Doherty Drive in Larkspur.
Marin has helped prove the point of the pilot that safety and convenience are large impediments to getting people to use bikes or their feet to get to work or to run their errands. Wisely investing dollars in those areas already has paid promising dividends.
Marin Independent Journal Editorial. "Editorial: Federal bike pilot pays off with results." MarinIJ.com. Marin IJ, 8 May 2012. Web. 1 June 2012.
Bike Support Careens Ahead
Uploaded: Friday, May 18, 2012, 1:49 PM
Bike support careens ahead
Yet Congress still spinning wheels over nonmotorized transport
As Congress began conference work last week in an attempt to reach a consensus transportation bill, a new nationwide survey revealed overwhelming bipartisan support for maintaining or increasing federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting, Cal Park Hill Tunnel, San Rafael
Left to Right: Supervisor Charles McGlashan, Supervisor Steve Kinsey, Supervisor Judy Arnold, Supervisor Susan Adams, Marc Levine of San Rafael, former San Rafael Mayor Al Boro, and former Larkspur City Council, Joan Lundstrom.
That show of support comes as Republicans have repeatedly threatened to reduce or eliminate federal funding of bicycle and pedestrian projects as frivolous and an unwise use of taxpayer dollars.
But the survey shows that taxpayers across the country want their tax dollars to support these projects. Princeton Survey Research Associates International, commissioned by America Bikes—a coalition of bicycle and walking advocacy organizations—surveyed 1,003 adults across the country. Respondents were asked to answer questions to determine whether they support federal spending for bike lanes, bike paths and sidewalks. The questions were included in a larger demographic survey conducted by the company. Nonmotorized transportation advocates know most people look kindly on these projects, but the survey results surprised them.
"We were hoping to find data that we could use in support of biking and walking," says Mary Lauran Hall, communications coordinator for America Bikes. "We didn't think the numbers would be this strong." A Republican strategy to hold nonmotorized transportation funding hostage to other issues, such as the gutting of environmental regulations and support for the Keystone Pipeline, have little resonance beyond Washington, she says. "The biggest message the survey results are sending is that Americans (strongly) support the federal funding that goes toward sidewalks and bike lanes, and the controversy about this issue is really an inside the Beltway fight. Americans want this type of infrastructure built."
The survey shows that most Americans are unaware of the small amount of federal transportation money that actually goes to bicycle and pedestrian projects, a level so small it makes little sense to reduce it substantively—or eliminate it, as some Republicans have proposed. Less than 2 percent of federal transportation spending goes toward sidewalks and bikeways. Bicycling and walking currently account for about 12 percent of all trips and represent 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the survey. "Eliminating the tiny percentage of funding...may worsen the existing discrepancy between funding, safety and the number of trips made by foot and bike," states the survey report.
After learning that 17 percent of federal transportation funding goes toward public transportation and 80 percent funds road and highway projects, respondents were asked if the percentage that goes toward bicycling and walking should increase, decrease or stay about the same.
The increase in nonmotorized transportation that has occurred across the country is reflected in the survey results, and in trip-generation statistics included in the survey report. According to a Federal Highway Administration report, Americans took 4 billion bicycle trips in 2009, and according to a U.S. Census Bureau 2010 American Communities survey, the number of bicycle commuters increased by 43 percent since 2000.
Marin has seen its own increase in bicycling and walking, according to statistics included in the final report to Congress for the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Project, which received federal funding from the last transportation bill. Marin was one of four communities to receive funding, along with Minneapolis-Saint Paul; Columbus, Missouri; and Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. The pilot project was designed to determine whether investment in infrastructure would spur bicycling and walking. It did. Since 2007, bicycling trips increased 64.4 percent in Marin, walking trips 21 percent. During the same period, driving trips decreased 4.7 percent.
The growing embrace of bicycling and walking as utilitarian methods of transport, as well as recreational activities, is reflected in the support for federal funding revealed in the survey. An overview of the results shows that 83 percent of all respondents supported maintaining or increasing federal funding that pays for sidewalks, bikeways and bike paths. Only 13 percent said funding should decrease. Bicycle and pedestrian advocates hope those results will help persuade Republican legislators to drop their attacks on nonmotorized transportation.
When looking at the survey numbers based on party affiliation, the suggestion that Republicans should drop their nonmotorized transportation attacks gets some political teeth. According to the survey, 88 percent of Democratic respondents said Congress should maintain or increase federal funds. Although that percentage may not be surprising, the results from Republican respondents are opening some eyes: 80 percent of Republican respondents said Congress should maintain or increase bicycle and pedestrian funding.
"Support for maintaining or increasing funding for sidewalks and bikeways was consistently high among all survey demographics," according to the survey report. "Respondents reported support for biking and walking funding in all gender, age, income and racial groups. Support also was high regardless of political identification, educational background, region and community type."
The level of support for maintaining or increasing funding was greatest among the youngest demographic group. Ninety-one percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said funding should either stay the same or increase. The lowest level of support came from the oldest demographic, respondents over 65; 79 percent supported maintaining or increasing funding.
The strongest results among the youngest respondents echoes the findings in another report, "Transportation and the New Generation," in which the Frontier Group and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund reported a marked reduction in the number of miles driven across the country. "The trend away from driving has been led by young people. From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16- to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita—a drop of 23 percent."
Alternative transportation advocates want Congress to get the message: Bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure should be an intrinsic and inseparable part of the country's transportation infrastructure and should be treated as such during debates about federal transportation funding. The New Generation report and the Princeton survey results show that demographics are on the side of the nonmotorized transportation advocates. The challenge is imparting the meaning of the data to elected representatives.
Although tough opposition continues among conservative Republicans, some more moderate lawmakers are, indeed, getting the political message. Last week, America Bikes held a press conference with the Capitol building as a backdrop. Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., were present as were Congressmen Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Tom Petri, R-Wis. A representative of Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, also attended. All spoke of their support for funding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure
The survey results have a 3.6 margin of error and "a 95 percent level of confidence," according to Princeton Survey Research Associates. The results give ample political cover for politicians who want to support nonmotorized transportation. "The survey is important and can help us fight to maintain" the provisions in the Senate version of the transportation bill, known as MAP-21," says Caron Whitaker, campaign director at America Bikes.
The Senate passed MAP-21 in March. Under MAP-21 in California, Caltrans would decide how half of federal transportation funds are spent. Regional entities, like the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), would choose how the other half is spent. Among other mandates, MAP-21 would set standards to ensure that all stakeholders, including bicyclists and pedestrians, receive consideration during the design and operation of federally funded transportation projects. It also requires states to spend at least what they received in 2009 for the Recreational Trails program.
Revisions to the final bill would allow local governments, school systems and metropolitan planning organizations to access funding for local distribution of what is called Additional Activities money through a competitive process, moving decision-making down to the local level, where cities and schools can present projects to the MTC for approval.
House leadership pushed HR7, a version of the bill that would have attacked alternative transportation—with a vengeance. The Senate version and the latest House proposal are now the subject of the conference process.
Deb Hubsmith, director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, attended the America Bikes press conference. The congressional representatives who attended talked about the importance of funding the bicycling and walking infrastructure as well as the importance of bicycling for utilitarian uses: to shop and get to school. That strikes a note with Hubsmith, who founded Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
The Centers for Disease Control recently honored the program with a Game Changer Award. Safe Routes, born in Marin, is now a national program. "More than 5 million children and 12,000 schools are benefiting from more pedestrian and bicycle pathways as well as education programs," the CDC said in a tribute to the program, "Safe Routes to School National Partnership is now a powerful network of more than 500 organizations and has sparked a national movement to make streets safer for kids to walk and bicycle to school and in daily life. Safe Routes to School continues to be a catalyst for bringing about changes in the built environment that increase physical activity and safety, creating a healthier future for children and everyone."
The acknowledgement by the CDC that nonmotorized transportation is a health issue shines a light on the numerous and sometimes overlooked advantages of supporting bicycling and walking infrastructure with federal dollars.
In 2008, two advocacy groups, Bikes Belong and Rails to Trails Conservancy, sponsored a study that revealed startling cross benefits from bicycling and walking. According to the report, titled "Active Transportation for America," "Investment now in a more diverse transportation system—one that provides viable choices to walk, bike and use public transportation in addition to driving—will lead to a far more efficient use of transportation resources."
The report quantifies the benefits of nonmotorized transportation in several areas. In 2008 (9.6 percent), 23 billion miles of annual driving were avoided. That saved 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline a year and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 12 billion tons The amount of physical activity from bicycling and walking averaged just 3 minutes. The report posits that the benefits resulted in a monetary value of $4.1 billion a year.
And the report concluded that increasing the percentage of alternative transportation use to just 13 percent would bring big changes in the numbers: 69 billion miles of driving a year would be avoided, saving 3.8 billion gallons of gasoline a year and 33 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions; and an increase in physical activity to 5 minutes a day per person. The monetary value of the benefits would increase to $10.4 billion a year. Increasing bicycle and pedestrian modes to 25 percent would bring a $65.9 billion a year benefit.
The premise of the report was straightforward: Relatively small increases in bicycling and walking can yield huge monetary benefits for the country (as well as reducing congestion and improving health).
According to the report, "The enormous benefits from bicycling and walking justify federal expenditures at least several times greater than the status quo. Investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is a highly cost-effective means for meeting a sizeable portion of our transportation needs...." And the benefits can come from easily doable short trips, just more of them.
The results of the Princeton survey show the American public is on board. (Forty-seven percent of respondents said the country actually should increase federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.) Now the question is: Where are the legislators?
Seidman, Peter. "Bike Support Careens Ahead." Pacificsun.com. Pacificsun.com, 18 May 2012. Web. 1 June 2012.
LaHood Hails "Eye-Opening Report on the Value of Investing in Nonmotorized Transportation"
Marin’s Non-Motorized Pilot Program Huge Success
May 2, 2012 - Since the nation's first-ever experiment to gauge the impact of concentrated investment in biking and walking infrastructure in America was launched in 2007, lawmakers and transportation planners have been awaiting this moment - the publication of the project data evaluating the real impact of this infrastructure on communities.
Bicycle Route 5, Cal Park Hill Tunnel, San Rafael
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today described the release of NTPP data http://fastlane.dot.gov/ as "… an eye-opening report on the value of investing in nonmotorized transportation."
Now, the numbers are in: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/ntpp/2012_report/page01.cfm#Toc308001010 and data counts reveal a more positive impact than even the program's most ardent advocates anticipated.
The U.S. Congress last week was handed the statistical analysis of the first three years of the groundbreaking Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/ntpp.htm (NTPP), which dedicated $25 million to each of four communities across the country to accurately demonstrate whether such investments equate to significantly higher levels of walking and bicycling, and a reduction in vehicle miles traveled.
Between 2007 and 2010, new multi-use paths, bike lanes, pedestrian routes and trails in the four pilot communities - Minneapolis, Minn., Sheboygan County, Wisc., Marin County, Calif., and Columbia, Mo. - resulted in an estimated 32 million driving miles being averted. Non-motorized transportation infrastructure enabled local residents to choose to walk or bike for local trips, reducing traffic congestion and pollution, improving physical activity rates and sharply cutting into time spent driving.
Counts in the four pilot communities revealed an average increase of 49 percent more bicyclists and 22 percent more pedestrians between 2007 and 2010. The mode shift in these communities - how many people switched from cars to biking and walking for trips - also far outstripped the national average for the same period.
Established and funded by federal transportation legislation SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) in 2005 - and with management support from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) - NTPP set aside $100 million for biking and walking infrastructure in four communities of varying size across the country.
"Anecdotally, we have already heard overwhelming evidence http://vimeo.com/37805404 of how each community's investment in bike lanes, trails and sidewalks has returned myriad benefits," says Marianne Fowler, RTC's senior vice president of federal relations. "Not just helping people get from A to B but also increasing physical activity levels and energizing downtown shopping districts. These effects have been hailed by everyone from business leaders and elected officials, to health workers and teachers, across the four pilot communities. It is great to see those outcomes reflected in hard data."
Fowler says that with the evidence now in black and white before them, Congressional representatives across the nation must be compelled to recognize that continued investment in walking in biking represents terrific value for American taxpayers. Multiply the data from these four communities on a national scale, after all, and the results are simply astounding.
The report on the impact of the NTPP comes at an opportune time, with the House and Senate still locked in debate over the passage of the next federal Transportation Bill. With opponents of walking and biking infrastructure claiming it is a frivolous use of transportation funding in these tough economic times, the testimony of state and local leaders, businesspeople, residents and health officials as to their cost-efficiency and effectiveness, and data supporting their improved functioning of transportation systems, will be welcome messages.
"These are not all typical, bike-friendly cities," Fowler says. "These four communities represent a solid cross-section of America. Even in places like Sheboygan, which doesn't have urban density, has cold winters, and has had almost no experience with biking and walking initiatives in the past; locals have rapidly become champions because they have seen the real-time effects, the actual benefits to their community. The incongruous thing is that Congress, with a simple, low-cost solution to so many transportation problems right here in front of them, can't see the people for the cars."
Kevin Mills, RTC's vice president of policy and trail development, says that even though the findings of this report are already compelling, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
"Changes in behavior related to infrastructure take years to emerge, as bike paths and trails and sidewalks become familiar parts of people's daily lives," Mills says. "That we are already seeing such significant increases in biking and walking in these communities is encouraging. But it is just the beginning of the amazing shift in travel behavior that we expect to see."
"By every measure, this program has been a raging success for these four communities," Mills says. "They prove that concentrated investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure produces a significant shift in the way people get around. These documented increases in trips taken on bike and by foot represent significant reductions in vehicle miles travelled, helping to cut congestion, pollution and health-care costs while increasing mobility for all citizens. These improvements represent a terrific return on investment. We hope that this compelling evidence will catch the eye of those lawmakers who are, as we speak, making decisions about America's transportation future."
The report estimates that boosting the amount of pedestrian and bicycle activity in these communities reduced the economic cost of mortality by about $6.9 million. Doctors and the broader public health community have long been advocating increasing opportunities for biking and walking as a cost-effective strategy to reduce illness and wasteful spending on reactive health care.
"From the public health perspective of reversing the intertwined trio of obesity, type II diabetes and physical inactivity, the NTPP represents a true front line intervention," says Kristina Jones, RTC's healthy communities’ manager. "In addition to the human burden, diabetes and prediabetes alone cost Americans $218 billion in 2007. We know that physical activity is crucial to prevention and control - prevention that in the coming years will save these communities many millions of dollars in unnecessary reactive health care."
More data on the success of the NTPP will be made available in the coming months. Stay tuned!
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Congress Battles Over Car-Free Transportation
San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Congress opened negotiations Tuesday on a new transportation bill as bicycle and pedestrian groups fought to defend programs, including one in Marin County, that build bike paths and sidewalks to make it easier for people to travel without a car.
Northbound Golden Gate Bridge
The programs that make up most federal support for biking and walking - dubbed "safe routes to schools," "recreational trails" and "transportation enhancements" - make up less than 2 percent of all federal transportation funding. Republicans have targeted the programs for elimination or cutbacks in the House and Senate as a way to save money and stop what they call unnecessary spending on such things as transportation museums.
House and Senate negotiators, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., began trying to meld the Senate's $109 billion, two-year bill with efforts by House Republicans to raise money for highways by opening all U.S. coasts to oil and gas drilling, and building the Keystone pipeline between Canada and the Gulf Coast.
Supporters of bicycle and pedestrian programs pointed to the success of the Marin County effort that increased bicycle transportation by 68 percent and walking by 23.7 percent from 2007 to 2010, while adding 9.4 million miles of nonmotorized travel in that time period.
The project encouraged more children to walk or bike to school and opened new commuter corridors, including a "greenway" from the Sonoma County line south to the Golden Gate Bridge. Part of the new trail uses an old railroad bed to take cyclists from San Rafael to the Larkspur ferry.
Marin County was mapped for the safest, most direct or most scenic bicycle routes and marked with route numbers, while businesses contributed by installing hundreds of bicycle racks.
Reducing car traffic
County planners discovered that 22 percent of cars in morning weekday traffic were ferrying children to school, said Steve Kinsey, president of the Marin County Board of Supervisors and a key proponent of the experiment. Some schools were able to reduce car traffic by 70 percent.
"Republicans need to get their heads out from under the hood of a car and realize that Americans need healthier choices and safer choices," Kinsey said. "We have found that when people know how to bike safely and have safe choices, for trips of less than 3 or 4 miles, biking is a really viable option."
The project was 1 of 4 in the nation that Congress approved six years ago to determine whether adding paths, sidewalks, signage and other efforts could get people out of their cars. The $100 million project, authorized as the Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program, allocated $25 million to each project.
Marin County was considered a "topographical challenge" because of its hills, while Sheboygan County, Wis., and Minneapolis have extreme winter weather and Columbia, Mo., needed support from large institutional employers.
Results from the nationwide test, released last week, showed an average 49 percent increase in bicycling, a 22 percent increase in walking and 32 million miles of vehicle travel averted from 2007 to 2010.
"Everybody isn't going to walk and bike, everyone can't walk and bike, but small increases can represent huge savings, both to the public and to persons individually," said Marianne Fowler, head of federal relations for the Rails to Trails Conservancy, a group that promotes cycling.
The House transportation bill gutted bicycle and pedestrian programs and Republican leaders could not pass it despite several attempts. They finally resorted to extending the current law.
The Senate bill passed on a rare bipartisan vote of 74-22 after partisan differences were worked out between Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and the top committee Republican, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.
Inhofe sought to cut the pedestrian and bicycle programs, but Boxer preserved most of them, with some concessions.
Bicycle and pedestrian programs "believe it or not, caused the most anguish and were the hardest to come to an accord on," Fowler said. She said the Senate bill scales back each of the programs to some extent, such as allowing governors to opt out of spending for recreational trails to divert the money to highways.
Fowler said that while Oklahoma City has started its first bike-share program with the full support of its mayor, Republicans such as Inhofe from rural states remain adamant that federal transportation money go to highways alone. She insisted that cycling and walking can work in small towns, too.
Marin County has spent $40 million so far on its bicycle and pedestrian program and Kinsey said a complete build out will cost $200 million. In addition to the federal grant, the county passed a half-cent sales tax, 12 percent of which goes to the school program. He said the Bay Area is moving toward adopting Marin's safe-routes-to-schools model.
Carolyn Lochhead is The San Francisco Chronicle's Washington correspondent. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Lochhead, Carolyn. "Congress battles over car-free transportation." SFGate.com. San Francisco Chronicle, 9 May 2012. Web. 1 June 2012.