The wild discrepancy between bike/ped trips and bike/ped funding (charts)

bike ped vs cars funding trips
© Alliance for Biking & Walking

I remember using a very similar chart to the one above back when I was the director of a nonprofit promoting greater transportation choice (e.g., better bicycling, pedestrian, and transit options) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Sadly, about 7 years later, the chart looks practically the same.

The point, of course, is that bike and pedestrian infrastructure deserves a lot more funding. A counter-argument that many bike/ped advocates wouldn't note is that bike/ped trips are shorter than auto and transit trips, so those other modes need more infrastructure and more funding. However, 11.4% of trips versus 2.1% of funding is still a huge discrepancy, and imagine how many more people would bike or walk if there was decent infrastructure in their city! Also, that counter-argument doesn't deal with the fatality issue at all, and it doesn't deal with the fact that bike and pedestrian infrastructure networks are woefully disconnected.

Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize recently made a great diagram regarding that last point. In the image below, look at the map in the bottom-left corner. If those red lines represent roads with bike lanes or off-road bike paths, that could be considered a "good" (dare I say "great") bicycling city in the US. As Mikael notes in the bottom-right diagram, however, bicyclists want to ride a lot more places than on those few, disconnected routes. The bottom-right map, with the blue lines being roads with bike lanes or off-road bike paths, shows what could genuinely be considered a bicycle-friendly city.

To many in North America, the idea of putting bike lanes or bike paths on so many routes is almost laughable it is so unlikely, but if we are serious about encouraging more people to bicycle, cutting bicycle fatalities, improving the physical activity and health of our citizenry, and addressing the greatest challenge of modern society — global climate change, then this is one of the best options we have. The fact that bikes and pedestrians require much less infrastructure and space also makes investment in their infrastructure very fiscally conservative and efficient.

So, the big questions are:

    1) Are we willing to take funding away from cars in order to build adequate bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure networks?
    2) Are we politically motivated enough to make that happen?

Look at this final chart and see if it irritates you enough to make something happen on the local, state, or federal level:

The first and third chart above come from the Alliance for Biking & Walking's new 2014 Alliance Benchmarking Report. The other key point I pulled from that report was one about bicycling rates in hot and cold climates. Check out the Alliance's "8 fascinating facts" summary for even more. Or just check out the full report...

And let's not forget: 1 mile of a protected bike lane is 100x cheaper than 1 mile of roadway.

The wild discrepancy between bike/ped trips and bike/ped funding (charts)
Three charts give us something to ponder.

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