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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.

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