Transportation is one of the top issues at the State Legislature this year and is already getting a lot of media attention. As it should–investing in a modern transportation system is critical for Minnesota’s economic competitiveness and quality of life.
But walking and biking have mostly been left out of that conversation so far. The Star Tribune ran a 1600-word central spread on transportation last Sunday, “Minnesota’s broken bridges, ruined roads: All agree something must be done“, without a single mention of walking or biking. Ditto for the Pioneer Press.
Governor Dayton is finalizing his budget proposal, which is sure to include a transportation bill. The Governor has spoken a lot about roads, bridges, and transit, but so far he hasn’t mentioned biking and walking.
(If you want to weigh in on the Governor’s transportation proposal, now would be the time. He is reachable via online form or at email@example.com or leave a message at 651-201-3400.)
8 Reasons Biking and Walking Should be a Strong Part of Any State Transportation Bill:
1. Biking and walking offers a great return on investment.
Transportation investments are about improving lives and communities, not just about pavement or paint. Improving walking and biking is very affordable in transportation terms and attracts people and business to our state, improves public health, reduces pollution, saves families money, and gets people to work, school, and other destinations. The $25 million investment in Bike Walk Twin Cities from 2007 to 2013 helped support a 60% increase in biking and a 14% increase in walking. This led to many quantified benefits, including fewer cars on the road, big health cost savings, and air and carbon pollution reductions.
2. Residents across the state support more funding for biking and walking.
A statewide poll by the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition in November 2014 found that 65 percent of Minnesotans support including additional funding for biking and walking as part of any state transportation funding package. Support was highest in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but a majority of people supported biking and walking funding in all parts of the state.
3. Walking and biking are a critical part of our transportation system.
Eight percent of all trips in the Minneapolis–St. Paul region are by walking and biking (see graph). That’s about 800,000 trips a day, according to the Metropolitan Council. While the numbers are lower outside the Metro (and there is no similar survey done), biking and walking are also very important to many communities for Main Streets, trails, and more across the state. There are dozens of Complete Streets policies in Greater Minnesota, from 900-person Battle Lake to 100,000-person Rochester.
4. Biking and walking safety needs investment.
From 2008 to 2013, 267 people were killed walking and biking on Minnesota streets, according to Minnesota Dept of Public Safety data. That is 11% of all traffic fatalities. And thousands more were seriously injured. That is not ok and needs investment to improve.
5. Walking and biking are growing in importance.
The percentage of trips by walking increased by 16% and biking by 13% from 2000 to 2010. During the same period, the percentage of trips driven alone was down 9%.
6. State and regional funding in biking and walking is tiny and unacceptable.
Despite being 8% of trips, only 0.2% of regional, state, and federal transportation funding is allocated to biking and walking over the next 25 years (see chart from the Met Council’s 2040 Transportation Policy Plan). That is not a typo: 0.2 percent! It’s so low, biking and walking are labeled as “other” and don’t even make up a full bike image on the infographic. That is totally unacceptable and needs to change with a state transportation bill.
7. Young people–the future of our work force and transportation demand–want transportation choices.
8. Biking and walking have unmet funding needs.
While biking and walking projects are much less expensive than road, bridge, and transit projects, there are significant unmet funding needs for new sidewalks, protected bikeways, crosswalks, bike lanes, and more. The Minneapolis 2030 Bicycle Master Plan alone is estimated at more than $200 million (for a fantastic network of bike routes) and many other cities have biking or walking plans that need funding. The State should have a role in supporting local biking and walking projects.
Cross-posted on www.mplsbike.org. Note that the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is a member of Move MN and supports a comprehensive transportation funding bill that includes important funding for roads, transit, biking, and walking.