Kentucky ranks 37th in the nation for its number of commuters who bike or walk to work. Of the 51 largest cities in the county, Louisville ranks 33rd.
These are the findings of the Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report, compiled by the Alliance for Biking & Walking. As well as looking at commuter numbers, it also examined how safe those commuters are and where transportation funding is being spent on “alternative means of local travel,” reports Jeannine Stein of the Los Angeles Times. (Times photo by Wally Skalij)
Alaska, despite its cold climate, has the highest percentage of commuters who bike or walk to work. Boston has the highest ranking among cities. The lowest are Alabama and Fort Worth, Tex.
Across the country, 12 percent of all trips are on foot (10.5 percent) or by bicycle (1 percent), though from 2000 to 2009, the number of cycling commuters increased by 57 percent. While numbers are growing, safety is a concern. In the 51 largest cities, 12.7 percent of trips are by foot and 1.1 percent are by bicycle, but 26.9 percent of traffic fatalities are pedestrians and 3.1 percent are bicyclists.
Despite the risk, the report makes a connection with biking or walking and health. It points out cycling and walking levels fell 66 percent between 1960 and 2009, while obesity levels increased by 156 percent. The picture was more grim when it came to children. Between 1966 and 2009, the number of children who biked or walked to school fell by 75 percent, while the percentage of obese children rose by 276 percent.
Despite the physical benefits of the activity, states spend just 1.6 percent of their federal transportation dollars on bicycling and walking, amounting to just $2.17 per capita, the report found.
Instead of biking or walking, people are still relying mostly on their cars. The report found 40 percent of trips in the United States in 2009 were shorter than two miles, but Americans used their cars for 87 percent of trips that were 1 to 2 miles in distance. When it came to trips up to 1 mile long, Americans still used their cars 62 percent of the time.
The report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AARP and Planet Bike.