Reasons to Support Biking and Walking

Health Benefits: Increased walking and cycling lead to increased fitness and health.

  • Three-quarters of Maine people die from four chronic, and for the most part, preventable diseases — cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes. All four of these diseases share physical inactivity as a major underlying cause.[1]
  • Maine’s adult obesity rate is 26.5%. Fifteen years ago, Maine had a combined obesity and overweight rate of 51.1%. Ten years ago, it was 55.2 %. Now, the combined rate is 63.2 %.[2]
  • In 2007, 12.9% of Maine children between the ages of 10-17 were obese, with a combined obesity and overweight rate of 28.2%.[3]
  • People who were obese in 2008 had medical costs that were $1,429 higher than the cost for people of normal body weight.[4
  • The Center for Disease Controls’s minimum daily physical activity recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity from work, transportation or leisure-time exercise, can be met by walking 1.5 miles or biking 5 miles per day.[5]

Environmental Benefits: Non-motorized travel results in a decrease in the negative environmental impact of motorized travel.

  • Automobile air, noise and water pollution costs are typically estimated to average 2¢ to 15¢ per vehicle-mile, with lower-range values in rural conditions and higher values under congested urban conditions.[6]
  • 60% of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation, before pollution control devices can work effectively. Since “cold starts” create high levels of emissions, shorter car trips are more polluting on a per-mile basis than longer trips.[7]
  • More than half of all trips are under 3 miles in length — ideal for bicycling — and 28% of all trips are 1 mile or less. Currently, 60% of trips less than 1 mile in distance are taken by car.[8]
  • Every mile traveled by bike or on foot rather than by car keeps one pound of climate-damaging carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, while reducing cash draining stops at the pump.[9]
  • A bicycle commuter who rides five miles to work, four days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving a year—the equivalent of 100 gallons of gasoline saved and 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions avoided. [10]

Economic Development: Walking and cycling spur economic development.

  • Improved walking and cycling conditions increase local property values and support local development. Residential property values increase from $700 to $3000 for each 1-point increase on the Walk Score index and office, retail and apartment values increase 1% to 9% for each 10-point increase in the 100 point Walk Score index.[11]
  • Improved walking and cycling conditions support related local industries, including retail, recreation and tourism. 59.8 million bicyclists in the United States contribute $149.2 billion to the economy in bicycle gear and trip related sales and federal and state taxes.[12]
  • A study in 2001 showed that bicycling was contributing $66.8 million annually to Maine’s economy.[13]
  • Biking and walking are on the rise, and now account for 11.9% of all trips made in this country. This is up from 9.5 % in 2001, a 25% increase.[14]
  • Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects create more jobs than infrastructure projects for cars alone. Bicycle projects create 11.4 jobs for every $1 million invested — 46% more than car-only road projects.   Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million, and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million.[15]

Public Savings: Walking and cycling can result in reduced demand for public construction projects.

  • Shifts from driving to walking or bicycling provide roadway facility and traffic service cost savings of approximately 5¢ per mile for urban driving and 3¢ per mile for rural driving.[16]
  • 10-20 bicycles can be parked in the space required for one automobile.[17]

Personal Savings: Pedestrians and cyclists save money.

  • In a year, regular bicycle commuters who ride five miles to work, can save about $500 on fuel and more than $1,000 on other expenses related to driving.[18]
  • The cost of owning and operating a car, currently estimated at $9,055 per year, can account for almost 18 percent of a typical household’s income.[19]
  • The cost of operating a bicycle for a year is $120.[20] Walking is free.

Quality of Life: People value living in communities that supports bicycling and walking.

  • Improved walking and cycling conditions increase local property values and support local development. Residential property values increase from $700 to $3000 for each 1-point increase on the Walk Score index and office, retail and apartment values increase 1% to 9% for each 10-point increase in the 100 point Walk Score index.[21]
  • Communities with bike and pedestrian infrastructure enable the interaction between neighbors and other citizens that strengthens relationships and contributes to a healthy sense of identity and place.

Social Justice: Bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks allow people to choose how they want to travel.

  • Between 2001 and 2009, the number and percent of households with no vehicle available grew by nearly one million households, from 8.1% of all households to 8.7%.[22]
  • For those who do not have the option to drive, such as adolescents, those unable to afford a car, and people with certain disabilities, this lack of choice in transportation creates an inconvenient and socially unjust barrier to mobility.
  • Bicycling and pedestrian projects receive less than 1.5% of federal transportation dollars, although non-motorized transportation accounts for more than 12% of all trips made.[23]
[1] Mills, Dora Anne. 2011. “Poor Nutrition Amidst Plenty.” Maine Policy Review 20(1): 107-123, http://mcspolicycenter.umaine.edu/files/pdf_mpr/v20n1/PDF_articles/Full_v20_no1_MPR_11Spr_Print.pdf.
[2] Trust for America’s Health, “F is for Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011,” http://healthyamericans.org/report/88/.
[3] National Conference of State Legislatures, 2007 http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=13877 .
[4] Center for Disease Control, “Obesity: Halting the Epidemic by Make Health Easier 2011,” p. 2, http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/obesity.htm.
[5] “Active Transportation for America: The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking,” Rails-to-Trials Conservancy, 2008, p. 29, http://www.railstotrails.org/resources/documents/whatwedo/atfa/ATFA_20081020.pdf.
[6] Litman, Todd, “Evaluating Non-Motorized Transportation Benefits and Costs,” Victoria Transportation Institute, October 2011, p. 35, http://www.vtpi.org/nmt-tdm.pdf.
[7] League of American Bicyclists: Ride for the Environment, http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/why/environment.php
[8] National Household Travel Survey 2009, http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf.
[9] Sightline Institute, Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet Fact Sheet, http://www.sightline.org/research/books/seven-wonders-for-a-cool-planet/fact-sheet-the-bicycle.
[10] “Active Transportation for America: The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking,” Rails-to-Trials Conservancy, 2008, p. 23, http://www.railstotrails.org/resources/documents/whatwedo/atfa/ATFA_20081020.pdf.
[11] Litman, Todd, “Evaluating Non-Motorized Transportation Benefits and Costs,” Victoria Transportation Institute, October 2011, p. 22, http://www.vtpi.org/nmt-tdm.pdf.
[12] “The Economics Associated with Outdoor Recreation, Natural Resources Conservation and Historic Preservation in the United States,” a study commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation prepared by Southwick Associates, September 29, 2011, p. 9, http://www.landtrustalliance.org/policy/documents/nfwf-study.
[13] Bicycle Tourism in Maine: Economic Impacts and Marketing Recommendations, Maine Department of Transportation, 2001.
[14] 2009 U.S. National Household Travel Survey, http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf.
[15] Garrett-Peltier, Heidi, “Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impact,” Political Economy Research Institute University of Massachusetts, Amherst, June 2011, p. 1, http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/PERI_ABikes_October2011.pdf.
[16] Litman, Todd, “Evaluating Non-Motorized Transportation Benefits and Costs,” Victoria Transportation Institute, October 2011, p. 31, http://www.vtpi.org/nmt-tdm.pdf.
[17] Litman, Todd, “Evaluating Non-Motorized Transportation Benefits and Costs,” Victoria Transportation Institute, October 2011, p. 31, http://www.vtpi.org/nmt-tdm.pdf.
[18] “Active Transportation for America: The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking,” Rails-to-Trials Conservancy, 2008, p. 23, http://www.railstotrails.org/resources/documents/whatwedo/atfa/ATFA_20081020.pdf.
[19] Your Driving Costs 2009. AAA Exchange. www.aaaexchange.com/Assets/Files/200948913570.DrivingCosts2009.pdf
[20]League of American Bicyclists. www.bikeleague.org
[21] Litman, Todd, “Evaluating Non-Motorized Transportation Benefits and Costs,” Victoria Transportation Institute, October 2011, p. 22, http://www.vtpi.org/nmt-tdm.pdf.
[22] 2009 U.S. National Household Travel Survey, p. 34, http://nhts.ornl.gov/2009/pub/stt.pdf.
[23] Davis, Stephen Lee, “Correcting some misinformation on bicycle and pedestrian spending,” Transportation for America, September 9, 2011, http://t4america.org/blog/2011/09/09/correcting-some-misinformation-bikeped-edition/.