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Federal Report: Biking, Walking up, Still Tiny Percent of all trips

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - 05:07 PM

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Via Ray Lahood's blog, the federal highway administration today releases the "National Walking and Biking Study: a Fifteen-Year Status Report." In 1994, the FHA set a goal of doubling biking and walking as modes of commuting, to about sixteen percent of trips. The report shows the goal hasn't been met -- 10.9 percent of trips are made on foot, one percent on a bike -- but biking and walking are up.

(Photo: US DOT)

The report does show both biking and walking have become safer in the last fifteen years. Fatalities are down, both in absolute numbers and in percentages -- down fourteen percent for cyclists and eighteen percent for pedestrians (though bike fatalities edged up slightly from their low in 2007.)

One other statistic in the report (not totally new) in 1969, more than forty percent of American schoolchildren walked or biked to school; now 13 percent do. Some of that has to do with the way America has been built in the last four decades, many schools simply are too far way from people's homes, or are otherwise inaccessible. But parents have also become increasingly concerned about the social approbation that rains down on parents who allow their children to walk alone. An October New York Times style section story produced no end of commentary in the blogosphere, mostly from parents worried that children walking alone are easy targets for molesters. But as the Takeaway discussed last fall, is it statistically more dangerous to put a child in an automobile than to allow him or her to walk?

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