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Study Finds Biking, Walking Save Lives

Bicycle Retailer: Study Finds Biking, Walking Save Lives

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—A new report by the Alliance for Biking & Walking shows that lack of investment in biking and walking could be contributing to higher traffic fatalities and chronic disease rates in the U.S.

"Bicycling and Walking in the United States: The 2010 Benchmarking Report" reveals that in almost every state and major U.S. city, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a disproportionate risk of being killed, and receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars.

While 10 percent of trips in the U.S. are by bike or foot, 13 percent of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. Biking and walking receive less than 2 percent of federal transportation dollars. Seniors are at an even greater risk. While adults over 65 make up 9 percent of walking trips and 4 percent of biking trips, they account for 19 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 9 percent of bicyclist fatalities.

"State investment choices can be a life or death issue for people who walk and bike," said Jeff Miller, president of the Alliance. "Creating safe streets for everyone will save lives and improve health and quality of life in communities."

The report also highlights the fact that states with the lowest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. In contrast states with the highest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the lowest rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. In addition, where rates of biking and walking are greater, more of the adult population is likely to achieve the 150 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity aerobic activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to CDC, physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.

The report also ranks states and the 51 largest U.S. cities in biking and walking levels, safety, funding, advocacy, and policies. It further compares U.S. cities to their international peers finding that overall, U.S. investment in biking and walking lags far behind that of other developed nations. This may explain why the U.S. has fewer people who bike and walk than its international peers.

"Our data show that increasing investment in biking and walking could lead to more people biking and walking," Miller said. "The more people bike and walk, the safer it is and the healthier the community. It’s a virtuous cycle."

Bicycling and Walking in the United States was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through additional support from Bikes Belong Coalition and Planet Bike.