How do we know how many people are biking? In most cases, we rely upon the American Community Survey. Each year the Census Bureau releases data on how people get to work, including whether they bike to work. This is the most consistent and widespread data on the number of people regularly biking in the United States. We use it in many ways -– to compare cities large and small, to evaluate communities and states using Bicycle Friendly America programs, and to better understand bicycle safety.
Our Every Bicyclists Counts report has generated quite a lot of discussion since its release last month, which is good. That’s why we do these things! We’ve heard everything from heartfelt “thanks” for digging into a genuinely difficult topic to the despairing “what am I supposed to teach my students now.” Let me see if I can provide a little more commentary and context to address some of the more frequent questions we’ve been getting.
A terrible string of fatal bike crashes in the Tampa area in late 2011 and early 2012 left the local bike community reeling. As they shared each awful tragedy with us, we too felt frustrated and powerless. We also realized how little we really knew about the circumstances of serious crashes between bikes and cars, and how woefully inadequate (and late) the available data was at the national level.
The Infrastructure & Funding category has long been one of the lower scoring categories that make up our Bicycle Friendly State rankings. In this category we ask tough questions about the infrastructure that is actually on the ground, the money from state and federal programs actually committed to bicycling and walking, and state goals and policies that affect funding and building decisions. When looking at long-term average spending on bicycling and walking as a percentage of all federal transportation funds, we see that less than 2% has been spent on bicycling and walking projects. It is not particularly surprising then that states tend to score low in this category.
Today the Census Bureau released its newest report on commuting in America, heralding a 60 percent increase in bike commuting in America over the past decade. We’ll be discussing this new report with Census Bureau staff via Google Hangout next Tuesday, May 13, at 12 p.m. Tune in here.
Whether you bike to work or school; ride to save money or time; pump those pedals to preserve your health or the environment; or simply to explore your community, National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling – and encourage more folks to giving biking a try! Here are some important national dates for May this year
Each year, $37 billion is allocated to states for transportation projects. How much does your state plan to spend on bicycle and pedestrian facilities? The new Advocacy Advance report, Lifting the Veil on Bicycle and Pedestrian Spending, takes a look at a complex federal process – the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). STIPs, at their most basic, are budget documents that express how states plan to spend federal transportation funds for the next four years.
Next week will be the 93rd annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, which means many a bicycle scholar will be descending upon the nation’s capital. The League is teaming up with the Bicicultures Research Network to invite researchers to join us on Tuesday night. We’ll be at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café in Dupont Circle from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Look for us in the mezzanine!
Devlynn Chen, a member of our Equity Advisory Council, worked with the League on an internship this summer to help us better understand what motivates youth to ride and how to engage them in advocacy. The result? A new report, authored by Chen, on “Engaging Youth in Bicycle Advocacy.”
In “Where we Ride: An Analysis of Bicycling in American Cities” we take a look at bicycle commuters throughout the nation, looking at broad trends (such as the three states that have had a more than 100% increase since 2005) and more particular analyses (such as top bike commuter rates in cities of various sizes).