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The Georgia Bikes Blog

Bird's eye view of Atlanta Streets Alive

8 Fascinating Facts about Bicycling and Walking in the US

This blog post is shared with permission from the Alliance for Biking and Walking:

 

Today is the launch of the brand new 2014 Alliance Benchmarking Report, a massive report filled with data and research on walking and bicycling in all 50 states, 52 of the most populous cities, and 17 midsized cities.


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The Alliance produces the Benchmarking Report every two years in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative. Our goal: to comprehensively examine bicycling and walking transportation across the U.S. and how these trends relate to public health, safety, and social and economic well being. Benchmarking is a particularly helpful approach to active transportation issues because it allows comparison among states and cities while also measuring national trends. Our report looks not only at bicycling and walking levels, but a suite of related trends, like crash fatalities, weekly physical activity, transportation costs, air quality, and economic growth.

 

Want to check it out for yourself? Download the report here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a TON of really fascinating data in this year’s Alliance Benchmarking Report. Here’s our peek at the eight most interesting data points.

 

1. There are smaller percentages of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities where there are more people biking and walking.

 

Generally speaking, bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities are a smaller percentage of roadway deaths in cities where there are more people who bike and walk to work. It could well be that if a city - or state - wants to reduce biking and walking fatalities, they should encourage more people to bike and walk -- perhaps through better infrastructure.



2. People are healthier in states where more people bike and walk.

 

Getting more people out on the street biking and walking means more people meeting daily recommendations for physical activity. There's a relationship between a state population's physical activity levels and its levels of bicycling and walking.


 

Accordingly, the states where fewer people have diabetes also tend to be the states where more people bike and walk.




 

3. A large percentage of commuters bike and walk to work in Alaska, Oregon, Montana, New York, and Vermont.

 

Not so much in South Carolina, Atlanta, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Here’s a map of bicycling and walking levels by state across the country:


4. The percentage of people bicycling and walking to work is increasing, and cities and states are paying attention.

 

Overall, we're seeing slow but steady increases in the number of people biking and walking in the United States.

 

5. Overall, biking and walking fatality rates have been decreasing for decades.

 

Fatality rates for bicyclists and walkers are on the decrease, with slight upticks in the last several years.

 

6. Very little federal funding goes towards making bicycling and walking safer, compared to number of trips taken and number of people who lose their lives while biking or walking.

 

Unfortunately, this is not a new statistic, but it holds true today. There's a significant disparity between walking and biking modeshare (i.e. the percentage of trips that are taken by bike or on foot), walking and biking fatalities as a portion of all on-road fatalities, and federal funding for walking and biking. Congress tends to fund roadway infrastructure rather than sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes.


7. Most cities and states understand that biking and walking are important and are setting goals to improve safety for non-motorized travelers.

 

Here’s some good news: our state and local governments want to help us walk and bike more.

 

This makes a lot of sense. Public health improvements depend in a big way on increasing levels of physical activity. Plus, most city and state populations are growing, but land mass size is staying the same. Making all modes of transportation safe and accessible will better accommodate higher population densities.



 

8. More people tend to bike or walk to work when their state and city have strong biking and walking advocacy.

As a coalition of state and local biking & walking advocacy organizations, we’re pretty excited about people working together to make communities better. And it turns out there’s hard data behind this work. Data show a positive correlation between the number of people who bike and walk to work in a city and the incomes and staff sizes of those cities’ biking & walking advocacy organizations. Strong advocacy means strong active commuting!



 

Diagonal parking: Head 1st, or back that thing up?

If you've ever ridden in the downtown business district of pretty much any city in Georgia, you have inevitably run the gauntlet of diagonal on-street car parking. 

Front-end diagonal parking is the bane of all urban roadway users, not just people on bikes (though it's especially dangerous for us). For the sake of an extra half-second of convenience when entering a parking spot in a motor vehicle, we have sacrificed the safety of everyone else using the street.

Your typical scene of a motorist leaving a diagonal parking spot: the driver strains akwardly over their shoulder to see through the rear end of the truck next door, then blindly reverses into the street... hopefully not into the path of a hapless bicyclist or inattentive motorist.

Fortunately, cities across the country have discovered a simple adjustment to diagonal parking that improves safety and maintains motor vehicle parking space: Instead of driving into the space head first, back it up.

While it may seem strange, parking in a reverse angled spot is no different from parking in a parallel parking space. In fact, reverse angle parking requires fewer steps and is less complicated than parallel parking, a technique pretty much all drivers have learned and one that many execute on a daily basis.

Pictured are an example of reverse angle parking in GA (3rd St in Macon) and a view from your perspective as a bicyclist on a similar road. 

Notice how easy it is for the motorist to see you and make eye contact. They are much more likely to see you in this situation than when reversing. 

Reverse angle parking is clearly preferable for the safety of people on bikes, but it has numerous benefits for motorists as well:

* No more reversing blindly into oncoming traffic

* Loading and unloading trunks would occur at the sidewalk instead of in the middle of the street

* Children entering and exiting motor vehicles would be shielded from traffic by open doors

* Reverse angle parking is easier than parallel parking, which we already accept as a necessary driving skill

 

 

Below are studies and resources from across the country about implementing reverse angle parking:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Trails lead to a vibrant, successful GA


 This past weekend in Athens, 150 trail advocates, users, builders, and supporters came together for the first statewide trails conference in fifteen years. This highly collaborative Summit brought together water trail specialists, the equestrian and hiking communities, plus dozens of governmental and nonprofit organizations working to enhance bicycle and pedestrian trails throughout Georgia. 

Georgia Bikes is very proud to have served on the planning committee, and we are honored to have been a part of this exciting, essential step toward realizing better and more connected trails for residents and visitors to our beautiful state.

Keynote speakers from Million Mile Greenway,  ALTA Planning+Design, the Atlanta BeltLineand the PATH Foundation shared inspiring stories of how some of Georgia's most impressive trails came to be and how their presence has been nothing short of transformational for the communities that benefit from their presence. 

Trails of all kinds are destinations, and destinations draw people. Over 2 million people per year visit the Silver Comet Trail, and the economic impact of these visitors is truly impressive (see the data here). The BeltLine in Atlanta has spurred over a billion dollars in private economic development, and it's not even a quarter completed!

Recognizing the incredible return on investment for trail facilities, many senior officials from the Georgia Department of Economic Development were in attendance. They offered statewide tourism resources to promote existing trails and pledged their support for helping to create expanded trails across the state.


To wrap up the weekend (and actually get out and enjoy some trails), we partnered with our friends from BikeAthens to lead a tour of the North Oconee River Greenway, where we discussed how multi-use paths can be integrated with on-street bike facilities and learned about local efforts to connect the Greenway to off-road bike trails and to the exciting Firefly Trail project.


Many thanks to the tireless, creative planning committee for the Georgia Trail Summit. We have no doubt

 this conference left everyone who attended more inspired, informed and connected - and that can only mean great things ahead for trails in Georgia

 

Need funding for a major bike project? Catch a TIGER!

FY2014 TIGER Grant Funding Now Available Through USDOT


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a Notice of Funding Availability for FY2014 discretionary grant funding under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.  The FY2014 omnibus appropriations act provided $600 million for the program.  Funding will be awarded on a competitive basis to infrastructure projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region.  Of the funds available, DOT may allocate up to $35 million for planning grants.  Click here to read the funding notice.  Applications are due April 28.  DOT is offering a webinar entitled “Preparing a Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) for a TIGER Discretionary Grant” on April 4 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET. Click here to register for the webinar.