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One of the most striking aspects of this report is the incredible disparity between investments that are made in bicycle and pedestrian facilities (less than 2% of all transportation dollars spent) and the percentage of people who walk or ride a bike and are involved in a collision with an auto. The report examines the investments made in other countries on bicycling and walking (very significant in some cases), and correlates this with the percentage of mode share for non-motorized transportation in that country. For example, in Amsterdam an average of $39.00 per resident is spent on bicycling —with a corresponding 35% bicycle mode share within the city. In Portland, OR an average of $3.50 per resident is spent on bicycling; Portland’s mode share hovers around 4% (one of the very highest in the U.S.) The average amount of money spent per capita for the entire U.S. is just $1.50 per person, with an average mode share of just under 1%.

Calls are made to leaders to prioritize “Active Transportation,” that is, bicycling and walking. The data clearly demonstrates that when communities invest in bicycling and walking infrastructure that mode share for non-motorized transportation rises. These investments can be relatively moderate compared to the dollars spent on automotive infrastructure. Those communities that have active grassroots coalitions fare better than communities that don’t. The costs associated with the public health epidemic can also be tied to the overall activity of the community with direct connections to the occurrences of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

While the Benchmarking Report is an incredible reference tool for policy makers and advocates, it still is very much a work in progress. The report aspires to continually develop and refine data collection methods. It is this data collection that will speak most directly to those who are able to influence policy and funding. The 2012 report will stand on the shoulders of this formidable effort. As the report notes at the very beginning, “What isn’t counted, doesn’t count.” Without these numbers, bicyclists and pedestrians will remain invisible to a system that was built for automobiles, but is traversed by millions of non-motorized users on a daily basis.

Levels of bicycling and walking in the U.S. at a glance:

Alaska and New York lead states for bicycle and walk to work mode share.

Boston ranks top for bicycle and walk to work mode share with a whopping 13.3% of people walking, and a modest 1.0% of people bicycling.

Nearly 10% of all trips are by bicycle or foot in the U.S.

Regarding gender distribution, the U.S. is comprised of roughly 49% male and 51% female. Of those who bike to work, 77% are men and 23% are women. Of those who walk to work 54% are men and 46% are women.

Regarding ethnicity, the U.S. population is divided into roughly 66% White/non-Hispanic, 15% Hispanic, 12% Black, 4% Asian, 3% Other. Of those who bike to work, 61% are White, 22% Hispanic, 11% Black, 4% Asian, and 2% Other. 64% of Whites walk to work compared to 16% Hispanic, 11% Black, 7% Asian, and 2% Other.

The age of the U.S. population is divided with 24% under 16, 61% age 16-65, and 15% over 65. Of people who bike 58% are 16 and under, 38% age 16-65, and 4% are over 65. Of people who walk, 28% are 16 and under, 63% are 16-65, and 9% are over 65.