Investing in new pedestrian ways and bikeways in Minneapolis encouraged people to bike and walk

The results are in on an experiment into the impact of pedestrian and bicycle investment on American communities. Minneapolis and three other municipalities took part in this unprecedented study, which found that people will shift from driving to walking or biking if local infrastructure and programs enable it.

In 2005, the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) set aside $100 million for biking and walking in four communities: Minneapolis; Columbia, Mo.; Marin County, Calif. and Sheboygan County, Wis. At the time, the Minneapolis area had had 38 miles of bike lanes and 57 miles of shared-use paths for bicycles and pedestrians. NTPP funding added 66 miles of on-street bike lanes, 29 miles of bicycles boulevards, and 3 miles of shared-use paths. These were mostly in Minneapolis, but did include connections to Minneapolis from nearby communities, including Saint Paul, Fridley, Golden Valley, Edina, Roseville and Falcon Heights.  NTPP also funded 1504 bike parking spaces and, through funding of Nice Ride Minnesota, 1554 bike-share bicycles.

After that investment, the study shows that both walking and bicycling are on the rise in Minneapolis. Walking increased an estimated 14 percent and bicycling increased an estimated 60 percent. These increases equate to an estimated 2.8 and 9.5 percent average annual growth rates for walking and bicycling.

Despite large increases in biking and walking, Minneapolis and the other pilot communities saw a 20 percent decline in the number of pedestrian fatalities and a 29 percent decline in the number of bicycle fatalities from 2002 to 2012. Pedestrian injury rates (incidents per number of trips) declined between 18 percent and 55 percent in each of the four communities. Bicycling injury rates declined between 8 and 38 percent in each of the four communities.

The report, “Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program: Continued Progress in Developing Walking and Bicycling Networks,” is available at www.smartmobility.us..

Published Jun 26, 2014