Good News from Good

Here’s an infographic from Good Magazine showing a dramatic increase in walking and biking trips, as well as an increase in DOT spending on Bike/Ped infrastructure, from 1990 to 2009.


12 Responses to “Good News from Good”

  • Greg says:


    I’m not sure I see this as good news. When I did a regression, the increase in traffic is relatively flat while the increase in spending is steep. However, I am curious about a few factors.. Inflation? Data source? Adjusted for population growth? And the kicker: the best data would be percentage of trips taken via walk or bike rather than total numbers. That alone makes drawing conclusions from this hazy. For example, between 2001 and 2005 when spending increased and numbers stayed flat, how does it look when you compare to # of car trips? It may not look so flat (or perhaps it even dips down). That’s where the interesting information is.

    Sorry, Good Magazine.

  • Greg says:

    Well, poop. I mixed up two of my chart lines (transposed budget for walking trips). In that light, it looks better, but it still goes from ~$0.00 DOT dollar spent to $0.03 DOT dollar spent per trip. I still think % of trips would be more infographic worthy.

  • Greg says:

    Here’s the chart with walking trips removed.

  • Fergie348 says:

    I’m with @Greg – going from 6 million to 1.2 billion in spending is a 200 fold increase, and the outcome has been (across both modalities) a 2.36 fold increase in traffic designed to use the infrastructure. Spending is logarithmically increasing and use is incrementally up or flat depending on the change in total number of trips (motorized plus non motorized as @Greg suggests).

    That trend can’t continue or we won’t be able to afford the infrastructure necessary to get to a modest increase from where we are today. The only hope we have is if these values are actually unrelated and other factors besides infrastructure spending can stimulate human powered mobility. Fuel excise tax, anyone?

  • Alan says:

    Do we know that the money is not being diverted from investment in new roads? It all comes out of the DOT budget…

  • Fergie348 says:

    Sure – it would be good to tie this to overall DOT spending. What’s the spending on bike/ped facilities as a percentage of the full combined DOT budget.

    However, it seems pretty clear from the anecdotal evidence that just as we can’t build our way out of traffic gridlock in suburban areas, we probably won’t be able to build our way to a 20% mode share for self propulsion for trips under 5 miles.

    So what is the magic formula? It’s a valid question, and one worthy of this blog I think.

  • Geoff Jennings says:

    I think the commentators assume that money spent now leads to changes now. Most public infrastructure work has a lag. I don;t know what it is, but if I spend X amount now, I won’t see the benefits of X for quite some time. So if the government is spending big bucks now, we’ll see it in a few years. Which makes the info graphic more compelling.

  • Alan says:

    “So what is the magic formula?”

    If the summer of ’08 is any indication, it’s higher gas prices.

  • Fergie348 says:

    It would be nice to see an increased cost to driving (through higher gas taxes, increases in registration fees, higher bridge and highway tolls or all three) partially offset by infrastructure improvements that might finally convince a decent percentage of current non-cyclists to give transportation cycling a try.

    I agree that the infrastructure has to be there and in use by other cyclists (successfully..) before most people will even consider switching out the keys for helmets. Maybe this is a one time expense that will pay off for decades. I hope..

    Now, getting that done in the current economic and political climate is going to be some trick!

  • Spencer says:

    I agree with Greg–are these nominal or real dollars? Bicycle or pedestrian trips as a % of total trips taken is more interesting.

  • Michael says:

    This is consistent with what I witnessed in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. It’s a burgeoning epicenter of the bicycle counterculture now in 2010, even though kids like me and others always rode bikes in 1990, it being a university town too with many students on bikes. The difference is public investment in its growing bike path network, many on old railbeds, and at least one new one on a filled in old surface street along a river. The paths really open up riding to novice riders who would feel unsafe amid even street traffic, no matter how many lanes you make for bikes. Major bike paths serving neighborhoods really take off in popularity over time, and serve as a hub for everybody within a few blocks distance of it to ride again. If anything, we are still spending too little, when just a little more could do wonders to create safe bicycle lanes elevated above traffic more, or so I’ve read. I think Trek’s President is now pushing to encourage this sort of stuff too there.

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