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Encouraging Bicycling and Walking, the State Legislative Role


Record high gas prices, a gridlock transportation network, increasing health conditions related to physical inactivity, and heightened environmental concerns have led to a reassessment of the transportation options available in this country, as well as a subsequent shift from driving to more active transport such as walking and bicycling. In addition, the need for efficient transportation alternatives is important because approximately one-third of the population in the U.S. is unable to drive because of age, disability, choice or license restrictions. For these reasons it is essential for states and communities to establish and support a safe and convenient environment for pedestrians and cyclists. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) produced this report to document distinct state approaches to encourage bicycling and walking.

Key Points

The report first offers an overview of recent trends in bicycling and walking and the economic, public health, transportation, and environmental benefits related to these active transport options. The following section of the report provides a snapshot of the current state of bicycling and walking in the U.S., as well as the federal involvement in bicycling and walking policy. Lastly, the report examines state legislative activity in three key areas pertaining to bicycling and walking: funding, planning, and safety. A visual tour of a bicycling- and walking-friendly community with samples of infrastructure design elements is also featured in this comprehensive report, beginning on page 38.

Other report highlights include:

  • To ensure cities pay adequate attention to bicycle funding, a few states have established a minimum amount of the transportation funding budget that must be used for bicycle funding. For example, Oregon’s “Bike Bill” requires that the state, county or city must spend at least 1 percent of money received from the state highway fund on bike facilities, infrastructure and sidewalks.
  • Many states have established grant programs to fund their efforts to increase active transport. Colorado uses revenue from the state lottery for trails and other outdoor projects. The Colorado State Trails grants program has built of restored more than 650 miles of state trails.

How to Use

Local officials, community leaders, and planners should use this comprehensive and detailed report to gain an understanding of the current climate for bicyclists and pedestrians in America and to learn how state legislation is working to improve conditions for non-motorized transportation modes. The case studies highlighted in the report should be used when establishing statewide initiatives that will make biking and walking safer and more convenient for all residents. This is an excellent resource for any community looking for guidance to plan and fund local biking and walking projects, programs, and infrastructure.

View Full Report: Encouraging Bicycling and Walking, the State Legislative Role (PDF – 2 MB)

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