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Bicyclists and Pedestrians Can Cool the Climate

Submitted by: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Categories: Community Development, Green Jobs & Career News

Posted: Feb 28, 2008 – 07:00 AM EST


Four Federal Pilot Communities Report Saving 67,000 Tons of Greenhouse Gas Annually

Feb. 28 /CSRwire/ - WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 28, 2008 - For the first time, the U.S. Department of Transportation confirms in an interim report to Congress on the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program, the climate benefits that can be gained by a community that embraces bicycle and pedestrian travel. The non-motorized trips covered in the report are also viewed as critical parts of the nation's surface transportation system.

The federal report reveals that bicycling and walking trips in Columbia, Mo., Marin County, Calif., Minneapolis, and Sheboygan County, Wis., range from 7.3 to an unexpected 19.6 percent of total person trips. In comparison to the four communities, commonly cited data place this figure near 9.5 percent nationally. Additionally, Minneapolis' total non-automobile mode share rises from 19.6 to a high of 29.3 percent of total person trips when transit riders are added.

Of critical importance is the fact that these levels of non-motorized transportation in the four communities reduce total vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) by an estimated 156.1 million miles over the course of a year. Based on the VMT reductions reported, a saving of more than $23 million in fuel costs alone, and a reduction of 67,000 metric tons of C02 emissions can be projected. Such a VMT reduction is an essential ingredient, along with improved automobiles and fuels, in meeting the nation's goals of fighting global warming and achieving greater energy independence.

"This report just goes to show that, for many travelers, the automobile is not always the mode of choice, and that safe and convenient options will lead them to use their bicycles or their feet to get around," says Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman. Adds Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, "This program, and its legacy, will change the face of transportation in communities across the country. Its contribution, and that of walking and bicycling, to the nation's fight against global warming will be notable."

This interim report is just one element of the federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program, established by Congress in 2005. Still in its initial stages, the program is providing each of the four pilot communities with $25 million over four years to implement a comprehensive set of projects and programs to encourage biking and walking. In addition to reduced greenhouse gas emission, anticipated benefits include congestion relief, low-cost travel alternatives and improved public health. In releasing the report, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters writes: "bicycling and walking…are environmentally friendly solutions to meeting growing mobility demands."

The report chronicles the early stages of program mobilization and launch, including early and active public involvement, a rigorous process to evaluate the program and "Implementation Challenges." Also described are "Plans for Implementation"-projects that will build out the seamless network of biking and walking facilities and the education and promotion programs that will encourage travelers to shift to walking and biking for their everyday transportation needs.

A copy of this interim report can be found at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/ntpp/index.htm. A final report on the program will be published in 2011. In the meantime, progress can be monitored on the national program website, www.smartmobility.us which also provides links to the individual websites of each pilot community.

For more information, please contact:

Katie Test Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Phone: (202) 974-5152


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