New Report Highlights Biking and Walking in Rural America
By Carolyn S on January 31, 2012
A new report from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy dispels the commonly held notion that only residents of big cities bike and walk. According to “Active Transportation Beyond the Urban Centers” folks in rural areas travel by bike and on foot as much — and in some cases, even more — than people in major population centers.
“It’s a widespread assumption in popular media and politics that people in small towns and rural areas do not walk or bike for transportation purposes,” says Tracy Hadden Loh, co-author of the report and research manager at RTC. “This report demonstrates that, in fact, rates for walking and bicycling in rural areas are close to, and sometimes higher than, the national average.”
Some key findings in the report include:
The report couldn’t come at a more pivotal moment. Congress is moving on the next federal transportation bill and the current House bill guts all funding for biking and walking projects and programs. This report proves that short-changing biking and walking by eliminating programs like Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School affects all communities across the U.S.
“Small communities need safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities just as much as big cities,” says Kevin Mills, report co-author and RTC’s VP of Policy and Trail Development. “To meet this need, Transportation Enhancements has provided twice the funding per capita in rural America than in big cities. This includes rehabilitating walkable main streets in small town that have been bypassed by interstates.”
According to RTC: “In coming years, active transportation can play an even bigger role in making small town America more attractive for young families and business investment — improving economic vitality, traffic safety and overall health in smaller communities in every region of the country.”
Read the full report and check out the interactive map here.
Tags: walking, transportation enhancements, small towns, safe routes to school, rural areas, rails-to-trails conservancy, federal funding, biking
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