"Bicycling and walking make up nearly 10% of all trips, and over 13% of traffic fatalities, and yet receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars."
So concludes the 2010 Benchmarking Report published by the Alliance for Biking and Walking. Please contain your gasps of disbelief.
Although those skewed spending priorities will immediately strike most people as being grossly unfair, the discerning skeptic will point out that basing the assessment on the number of trips made neglects to account for the fact that trips by biking or walking are almost always much shorter than trips made in motor vehicles. So it's only natural that we should spend more on infrastructure for longer trips, right?
Wrong—because by doing that, we are subsidizing those who choose to make long trips. That might be fine, if those long car trips didn't have so many negative impacts and externalized costs compared to bike and pedestrian trips. But they do. Which means, I would argue, that the number of trips is in fact the right metric, and that the current imbalance in funding per trip is therefore an indefensible embarrassment.
The table above shows how the trips break down for the U.S. as a whole. A few quick takeaways:
• Cars still dominate, big time;
• Walking is making a dent, but biking, not so much; and
• Transit works much better for commutes than for other trips.
Note that commute trips only make up only about 15 percent of total trips, which why the percentages in the two table columns vary by so much.
Of major U.S. cities, Seattle ranks near the top of most of the lists of ped/bike stats. The chart below showing commute trips is one example, and there are several other juicy charts and tables in the report that tell a similar story.
Compared to most of the U.S, Seattle can be rightfully proud of its achievements in promting bicycling and walking. But how are we doing compared to other parts of the world? Peruse the charts below for an international reality check.* Are you sure you're ready for this?
I've got nothing to add.
Except this footnote: Seattle's Bicycle Master Plan estimates that it would cost an average of $24 million per year over ten years to implement everything in the plan, which works out to about $40 per capita. According to the chart above, Amsterdam's per capita rate is $39. Coincidence?
*International chart data sources here, here, and here.