The newly released publication, Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2014 Benchmarking Report, (http://www.bikewalkalliance.org/resources/benchmarking) produced by the Alliance for Biking and Walking and the Center for Disease Control’s Healthy Community Design Initiative, offers in-depth information on the economic impact of investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure including job creation, retail and residential housing sales and tourism. And quite simply, while populations grow, land mass does not; making alternative modes of transportation safe and accessible will better accommodate future growth.
- Elected officials should support bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements for future economic development, especially in urbanized areas.
The study shows there are lower bicyclist and pedestrian fatality rates where there are more people are biking and walking. Drivers drive more carefully around pedestrians and bicyclists when they’re accustomed to actually seeing people walking and biking.
- To reduce bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities, elected officials should make walking and biking paths more widely available and encourage their citizens to bike and walk more often.
The government budgets countless dollars promoting emergency plans and preparing for hurricanes, however according to 8-80 Cities web site (a non-profit organization dedicated to making cities livable for people from ages eight to eighty), in the last ten years there were 16 times more pedestrian fatalities in America than there were deaths by all natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes).
- Elected officials who invest in safe multi-use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians increase safe travel in their community.
In addition, more encouragement to bike and walk means more people are getting much-needed physical activity and in turn, enjoying better health. According to 8-80 Cities, just 30 minutes a day for adults and 60 minutes a day for children can reduce diseases by 40 percent, saving the U.S. more than $100 billion per year in health care costs. Plus there’s no expensive equipment to purchase, membership fees and, in northwest Florida, it’s a year-round activity. Last but not least, biking and walking emit zero emissions.
- Having walking and biking paths encourages more walkers and bicyclists and in turn, betters our collective health.
Not everyone can drive, and not everyone should drive. Our elderly population is expected to doublewithin the next 30 years and children and ethnic minority populations are also projected to increase. Some of our citizens have never been drivers and never will. They may not be able to afford owning a vehicle, they may not understand the languages well enough to get a license, or they may be disabled or handicapped.
- We need to provide mobility for the young, the old, the economically disadvantaged, and the disabled – for everyone that makes up the tapestry of our community.