Walking & Cycling in the U.S., 2001-2009

Pucher PPT

This is John Pucher’s Powerpoint presentation from the 90th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, January 2011. The corresponding full study is due out in the American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 101, July 2011.

View the presentation [PDF]

5 Responses to “Walking & Cycling in the U.S., 2001-2009”

  • John Ferguson says:

    Thanks for posting Alan. I don’t know how to feel about the fact that I exceed the cycling miles travelled per capita per year in the US with a single ride into my office. Either proud or depressed or some combination thereof.

    Any way you slice the data, we’re a rounding error in the almost universal American pursuit of getting here to there for reasons commercial and not. The numbers are so low as to be almost laughable.

    My local cycling advocacy organization (Marin Bicycle Coalition) does a great job of getting infrastructure in place and raising awareness of the needs of cyclists. We have one of the most organized groups of advocates in the country, we have tremendous cycling weather (except this week), very good to great cycling infrastructure, an educated and relatively wealthy population, parents committed to having their children use active transportation to get to school, an unbelieveably gorgeous route to get to our major urban area (San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge).

    The list goes on. I can’t think of a more ideal area for bicycle commuting. Yet our measured rates of commuting by bicycle have never cracked 6%. The stated goal is 25% of all trips shorter than 5 miles. I have no idea how we’ll get there unless I start dragging people out of their SUVs at traffic lights and forcing them to ride bikes at gunpoint. It would work, but would probably be unproductive in the long run.. ;)

  • dominic furfaro says:

    As part of the one percent solution it feels right to leave the car at home and ride my bike. I’m fortunate to also ride in a city with a long history of great neighborhoods that were once linked by trolley cars. This post surprised me when I recognized the header picture as that of the Stone Arch Bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis MN. It does not surprise me tho the data collected by Pucher indicating dismal national numbers of walkers and bicyclist. I think active transportation has been overused as a way to advocate for more infrastructure. What Americans have been sold is bicycling infrastructure for recreation and sport use. Until the message to move your body is announced from the pulpit, city hall and the nations capitol, change in American human behavior towards healthful living will be an uphill battle and quite possibly a fight that never gets promoted. Finally, future collection of this data will fundamentally change. In a few short years land line phones will be obsolete.

  • dave says:

    I would have liked to see 95% confidence limit statistical error bars on the bar graphs to know if the differences highlighted were actually statistically significant. Secondly the fact that the 09 data is compiled from landline-only households is a serious shortcoming. The rate of decreasing use of landline phones is accelerating especially among the more active age brackets. Other reports I’ve seen showed the incidence of cycle commuting has increased perhaps doubling in the last decade. This divergence of findings was not discussed.

    Agree that it’s important to increase participation rates of women in bicycling for exercise and transport. For some reason they feel obliged to “dress up” more for work and all too often this means heels and dryclean-only clothing. A cultural shift for sustainability is needed with regard to what is considered acceptable business attire, etc.

  • Sally Hinchcliffe (aka townmouse) says:

    @dave – or, indeed a cultural shift as to what is considered acceptable cycling attire. With the right journey, the right conditions and the right bike, heels and smart workwear need not be incompatible with cycling. In most cases, the reasons I’ve heard women give for not cycling are rarely about how they need to dress for work – it’s about the perceived difficulty and danger of getting around by bike.To a certain extent, seeing other cyclists ‘armoured-up’ to ride in specialist sporting and protective equipment, only reinforces that perception.

  • Joseph E says:

    The response rate on the survey was only 20% in 2009, half of the response rate from 2001.
    The validity of these findings is questionable based on the low response rate. They need to do multiple call-backs and start calling cell phones, if they want to get a representative sample of younger people in particular.

 
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