Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Safety in Numbers

"Active Transportation for America" makes the case and quantifies the national benefits—for the first time—that increased federal funding in bicycling and walking infrastructure would provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits to all Americans.

By making active transportation a viable option for everyday travel, we will cost-effectively reduce oil dependence, climate pollution and obesity rates while providing more and better choices for getting around town.
 

Simply increasing bicycling + walking from 10% to 13% of all U.S. trips could lead to fuel savings of 3.8 billion gallons a year, equivalent to replacing 19 million cars with hybrids.

Read the report to learn more about how adequate federal investment in bicycling and walking will create healthier places for healthier people.

My favorite section breaks down my theory on more people on bikes = higher comfort and safety levels for cyclists. Designing communities to foster active transportation improves the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.
In 2006, more than 4,784 pedestrians and 771 bicyclists were killed on U.S. roads. Despite this disproportionate share of fatalities, federal funding to address bicycle and pedestrian safety has been sorely lacking.

In European countries that have invested considerably in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, such as Germany or the Netherlands, fatality rates for non-motorists are about 10 times lower than in the United States. Australian cities also report increased safety for bicyclists as a result of infrastructure investments and increased bicycling.

Portland, Ore., is a prime example of how investment in bicycle infrastructure results in increased safety. Since 1991, Portland has steadily expanded its network of bicycle facilities, and observed a constant growth in bicycling, while crash and fatality rates among cyclists significantly decreased. Between 1991 and 2006, Portland was able to reduce the crash rate by more than 69 percent. In that time period, the number of bicyclists grew more than four fold, while the number of fatalities remained low, between zero and five per year.

Infrastructure investments are clearly an effective and necessary measure to increase the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. Additional measures, such as education of motorized and non-motorized traffic participants, and various forms of traffic regulations can further improve safety. Simply said, there is safety in numbers and the fastest way to increase numbers is to invest money in facility infrastructure.

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