Federal funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects reached a new
high last year, according to a report released
today by the Federal Highway Administration. In terms of dollars,
federal investment in walking and biking more than doubled compared to
the previous high, set in 2007, thanks largely to an infusion of $400
million in stimulus funds.
The share of all federal transportation spending devoted to
bike-ped projects also rose to an unprecedented level — all of two
percent. Advocates for walking and biking applauded the trend while
pointing out the potential for much greater federal commitment to active
"It continues to be an improvement, and it continues to be a tiny
fraction of the money that’s available to potentially be spent on
biking and walking," said Andy Clarke of the League of American
Subtracting the $400 million one-shot in stimulus funding, Clarke
noted, yields a less impressive year-on-year increase. And part of the
increase in reported bike-ped spending might also simply reflect better
record keeping by state DOTs, as agencies document the construction of
sidewalks and bike lanes as part of larger projects, according to
Barbara McCann of the National Complete Streets Coalition.
The spending figures come from an update on the state of walking
and biking that the feds release every five years. The original National
Bicycling and Walking Study, released in 1994, set two major targets:
to double walk and bike mode-share, from 7.9 percent of all trips to
15.8 percent; and to reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities by 10
Today, walking and biking account for 11.9 percent of all trips in
the country, according to data from the National Household Travel Survey
cited in the FHWA report. The safety target, meanwhile, has already
been met, with pedestrian deaths down 22 percent and cycling deaths down
13 percent between 1994 and 2008.
post on the U.S. DOT Secretary’s blog, Ray LaHood implied that the
targets have to get more ambitious:
But, we are still talking about 4,378 pedestrians and 716
killed in 2008. No matter how we look at the data, that is just too
One way to strengthen national goals for walking and biking, Clarke
suggested, is to make them less open-ended and attach specific
timeframes to achieve them by. "That performance metric is essential,"
he said, noting that the original 1994 targets were weakened by the lack
of a deadline. "One could argue that we could have achieved [the
mode-share target] years ago. We would say, let’s recalibrate, so that
by 2020 we need to reach 20 percent mode share for bike-walk."
The progress cited in today’s report, said Clarke, highlights the
need for a robust federal commitment to walking and biking in the next
federal transportation bill. "States wouldn’t have done this if left to
their own devices," he said. "Without the federal leadership, without
the funding and targets, we would not have seen movement voluntarily. We
need that continued federal leadership in the next transportation bill
moving forward. The states have not embraced it sufficiently for it to
be left to chance."