"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.
In this era of traffic congestion, high gas prices, climate change, an obesity epidemic, and fiscal constraints, federal transportation funding has reached a critical crossroads.
Decades of car-centered transportation policies have dead-ended in chronic congestion, crippling gas bills, and a highly inefficient transportation system that offers only one answer to most of our mobility needs—the car.
Investment now in a more diverse transportation system—one that provides viable choices to walk and bike, and use public transportation in addition to driving—will lead to a far more efficient use of transportation resources. Active transportation is the missing piece in our transportation system.
Half of the trips in America can be completed within a 20-minute bike ride, and a quarter of trips are within a 20-minute walk. Yet, the vast majority of these short trips are taken by automobile. Bicycling and walking can also improve public transportation by providing fast and well-planned access to it.
Given the availability of safe and convenient infrastructure, more people will choose bicycling or walking for short trips and in combination with public transportation for longer trips. Further, communities conducive to bicycling and walking promote a richer and denser mix of residences and businesses, leading to shorter trip distances, even for those who drive.
But the advantages of bicycling and walking reach beyond transportation alone. Savings in fuel costs, a smaller carbon footprint, and a practical way to achieve recommended levels of physical activity are among the benefits that make active transportation an irresistible all-in-one package.