Americans are not only walking and biking to work, they're gaining more support from local government and advocacy groups. And they're also making cities safer: The higher the number of people walking to work, the lower the pedestrian fatality rate, according to a new report out today.
The Alliance for Biking and Walking has been collecting data and documenting trends since 2003. Their 2014 Benchmark Report, which was released today, has a good big-picture look at how attitudes and behavior are changing across the country. You'll note that this data is focused on commuting because those "trips" are one of the only things that cities and states track consistently across the board.
Here are four infographics that show how (and where) people are biking and walking to work.
These still aren't huge numbers, but across the board the rate of people who walk and bike to work is gradually increasing. Perhaps more notable is the increase in the number of cities and states that are actually tracking and counting these trips, meaning they are likely interested in improving their infrastructure and adding funding for these commuters.
The states that are walking and biking to work also have some of the most brutal weather: Alaska, Oregon, Montana, New York, and Vermont are where you'll see the highest rates of commuters on foot or bike. That's dedication. It's disappointing to see such low rates in states like Florida, where the weather is near-perfect year round—they should be following Hawaii's lead. And by the way: Go Alaska! How great is it that some of the highest walking and biking rates in the country are found where it's not only cold but dark most of the year?
Another way to look at the growth of walking and biking is to look at the number of advocacy organizations. In 1996, there were only a handful; now the U.S. has 230 state and local advocacy groups and over 500 full time staff. It's easy to see how the size of these organizations correlates with the number of people who commute on foot or bike.
This is probably one of the most incredible charts, just because it proves something that we all can see anecdotally: The more people are out of their cars, walking or biking, the safer the streets become for all. The orange dots are pedestrian fatality rates and the grey line is the percentage of the population that walks to work. By and large, the greater the number of people who walk to work, the lower those pedestrian fatality rates will be.
Top image by Gabrielle Salary, Courtesy of Alliance for Biking & Walking