Find local advocacy groups, bike shops, instructors, clubs, classes and more!

The Cost Effectiveness of Active Transportation Investments

Around here we love data, so after I sent the latest safety in numbers data around the office, it took Andy less than an hour to try to one-up me. He passed along this graph showing the Portland Metropolitan Region’s expenditures on biking and walking, transit, and motor vehicles (1995 – 2010) along side the number of new daily commute trips by those modes (1990 – 2008). There were increases in the number of commuters for all three modes. What the graph makes clear is how cost-effective the biking and walking investments were. The city spent about 11 times the amount on motor vehicle infrastructure that they spent on active transportation per new commuter.

Portland Regional Expenditures and New Trips

[Updated, Feb 18th.] “In 2008, Portland had 14,912 more daily bicycle commuters, 13,191 more daily transit commuters and 37,0006 more drive alone commuters than in 1990,” explains Portland’s Bicycle Coordinator, Roger Geller,  “During that time period bicycling  grew appreciably compared to population. Drive alone trips dropped, from 67.3% to 64.6%, transit trips grew 18% from 11.4% to 13.4% and bicycling grew 440% from 1.2% to 6.4%.”

Here are the graphs separated out:

Portland Increase in daily commute trips 1990 - 2008

Portland Regional Capitol Expenditures 1995 - 2010

If you can’t read the graphs, I’m happy to email them. (Request it at darren [at] The blue bar is the total expenditures (1995 – 2010). The red bar is the increase in daily Portland commute trips (1990 – 2008).  The black line towards the bottom is the estimated cost of complete Portland’s 2030 Bicycle Master Plan. UPDATE 2: You can now click on the image for a larger version. Many people — advocates, planners, and other interesting folks — requested the larger version. I would still love to hear how you are using this data.

Thanks to Roger Geller for sending us these graphs.

Posted in