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An Active America Through Biking and Walking

Midtown Greenway, Bike Walk Twin Cities

A busy Midtown Greenway, Minneapolis, Minn.

A new report, Active Transportation for America, makes the case for an adequate federal investment in bicycling and walking.  The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy presented the report today at an event in D.C. with Congressman and Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar and Bikes Belong.

The findings show that modest increases in bicycling and walking could lead to an annual reduction of 70 billion miles of driving, and more increases could avoid 200 billion miles each year, cutting oil dependence and climate pollution from passenger vehicles by 3 to 8 percent. Already bicycling and walking accounts for 10 percent of trips in the nation, and half of the trips in America are within a 20-minute bike ride and a quarter of trips are within a 20-minute walk, yet most are taken by automobile. There’s additional evidence to show that very modest investments, given the low price of trails compared with highways, can result in significant mode share increases — and more evidence on how this can positively affect public health.

We know that interconnected city parks and trails can be key elements of active transportation networks and of excellent park systems. In Minneapolis, a city with an extensive trail and park network, it was found that 20 percent of all trips are taken by bicycle or walking, and its Midtown Greenway has experienced a 30 percent increase in use this past year – to 3,620 average daily riders. Plus, trails across the country have been incredibly popular with the public. City park systems could be the beneficiaries of a new transportation policy in the upcoming year. The report is worth a full read through for anyone interested — for more information go to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s campaign website. (You can also view the event, including Rep. Oberstar’s remarks, here.)

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