Word just came in from the Department of Transportation that
the U.S. Congress will later today receive the much-anticipated report
detailing the measureable impacts of the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot
Established and funded by federal transportation legislation
SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A
Legacy for Users) in 2005-and with management support from Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy (RTC)-NTPP set aside $100 million for biking and walking infrastructure
in four communities of varying size across the country. The purpose of the
program was to accurately demonstrate how such investments equate to significantly
higher levels of walking and bicycling and reduced vehicle miles traveled.
We have already witnessed how each community's $25 million
investment in bike lanes, trails and sidewalks has returned a myriad benefits,
not just helping people get from A to B but also increasing physical activity
levels and energizing downtown shopping districts. These effects were hailed by
everyone from business leaders and elected officials, to health workers and
teachers, in the four pilot communities: Columbia,
Mo., Minneapolis, Minn.,
Marin County, Calif.,
and Sheboygan County, Wis.
"Now, it will be great to see those outcomes reflected in
hard data," says Marianne Fowler, RTC's senior vice president of federal relations,
and one of the architects of the NTPP. "Not just in terms of additional bike
and pedestrian pathways, but in terms of how many miles of driving were
averted, and how many people shifted from auto trips to active
transportation because of these investments."
The report on the impact of the NTPP, which will not be made
public for about a week, arrives in Congress at an opportune time. With
opponents of walking and biking infrastructure claiming it is a frivolous use
of transportation funding in these tough economic times, the testimony of state
and local leaders as to their cost-efficiency and effectiveness, and data
supporting their improved functioning of transportation systems, will be
RTC will make the NTPP report available as soon as it
Just curious why all the pilot communities are west of the Mississippi? Were any eastern cites considered?
thanks for your interest in this very cool program. You are right - there weren't any east coast communities chosen for the pilot (although Sheboyan County in Wisconsin is actually east of the Mississippi). That wasn't the result of any intentional bias or design, rather the desire to select a group which represented a good variety of city/county, urban/rural, warm weather/cold weather etc. It was also important to select communities in which a relatively small infrastructure investment of $25 million could have a demonstratable impact. That being said, we would love for the DOT to spread this wonderful program to more communities across America - the benefits certainly are clear.
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