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Alliance for Biking & Walking releases 2016 Benchmarking Study

Published March 2, 2016
Biking and walking on the rise in large cities, the nonprofit says.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN) — The Alliance for Biking & Walking released its biennial report on Bicycling and Walking in the U.S. Wednesday. The 198-page report compiles data from all 50 states, the 50 most-populous U.S. cities and 18 additional cities.

The Alliance has been tracking data across the U.S. since 2003. Every two years, it releases an updated report with the most recent data available. The report provides information on the states and cities where people walk and bike to work the most, gender gaps in bike commuting, health issues in states and large cities, what states and cities are doing to encourage biking and walking, the cities with the highest and lowest fatality rates for biking and walking, where cities and states find funding for bike and pedestrian improvements, and more.

The Benchmarking Report compiles data from more than 150 studies from a variety of sources including the Census’ American Community Survey, research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the League of American Bicyclists, the National Complete Streets Coalition and PeopleForBikes, among others.

“So much invaluable information is veiled in bureaucracy, hidden in plain sight in tables and spreadsheets and databases that are difficult even for experts to discern,” said Christy Kwan, interim executive director of the Alliance. “The Benchmarking Report pulls together a wealth of government data and adds to our arsenal with direct city surveys — information that isn’t available anywhere else.”

According to the report, biking and walking are seeing a steady increase nationwide, most notably in larger cities. Here are a few of the report’s findings:

• Large cities have seen bicycling grow 71 percent from 2007 to 2016, compared with only 50 percent for all states.

• Even in the most-populous cities, women are vastly outnumbered by men, making up just 29 percent of commuters who bike.

• Commuters of color represent a higher percentage of those who walk and use public transit than their representation within the total commuter population.

• There’s been a continued uptick in fatalities for people who walk or bike — especially among low-income, seniors and people of color populations.

• In almost all states, commuters with low income represent a higher percentage of those who walk and use public transit than their representation within the total commuter population.

• Infrastructure for biking and walking makes a difference. Protected bike lanes have been shown to increase biking levels between 21–171 percent, says the report.

• States and cities have seen economic development benefits from their investment in biking and walking. For example, a study of 10 Complete Streets projects found that 8 saw increased values for properties near the improved areas. A recent survey of businesses located near Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) stations in Washington, DC, found that 20 percent of businesses saw an increase in their sales, and 70 percent said they saw a “positive impact” on the surrounding area.

The nonprofit acknowledges that what the data shows is often in conflict with what appears to be happening in real time: “There is still a large gap between what we see in the data and what we see in our communities,” says the report. “The American Community Survey (ACS), for example, only asks for the primary travel mode a commuter used on the day of the survey. Thus, we are limited to data that capture survey respondents who walk or bike for the majority of their commute to work. These data miss pedestrian and bike trips for utility and recreation, as well as multimodal trips (e.g., a trip that includes a walk to a transit station).”

The 2016 Benchmarking Report is funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and AARP.

Click here to download the free report.

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