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U.S. states and cities ranked for biking, walking habits

January 24, 2012|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • California ranks No. 19 and Los Angeles No. 20 on a list of how many people commute by bike or foot, according to a new report.
California ranks No. 19 and Los Angeles No. 20 on a list of how many people… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Alaska has the highest number of bicycle and pedestrian commuters and Alabama has the lowest, according to a new report on bicycling and walking in the U.S.

The Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report, released by the Alliance for Biking & Walking, provides a look at commuting by cycling and walking in the U.S., how safe those commutes are, and where transportation funding is going -- or not going -- to promote these alternative means of local travel.

The report ranked states and cities on bicycling and walking levels (how many people commute by bike or foot) as well as fatality rates. Boston had the highest level of such commutes, and Fort Worth, Texas, the lowest. Vermont and Boston had the fewest fatalities and Florida and Fort Worth the most.

California ranks No. 19 and Los Angeles No. 20 on the biking and walking levels list, and No. 32 and No. 26, respectively, on the fatality rate list. Not horrible, but there's room for improvement. San Francisco is the eighth lowest city for fatalities.

Bright green bike lanes have shown up in downtown Los Angeles in recent months, part of a bigger plan for a 1,680-mile bike system and 200-plus miles of new routes every five years.

Portland has the biggest percentage of people who bike to work (5.5%), and several cities have the lowest including Dallas and Oklahoma City (0.1%). Albuquerque, N.M., allocates 14.5% of its federal transportation budget to bicycling and walking, while Las Vegas and New York dish out 0.1%. Overall, states spent 1.6% of their federal transportation funds on cycling and walking, or $2.17 per capita.

Some good news in the 242-page report: From 2000 to 2009, bicycling commuters in the U.S. rose by 57%. But the largest 51 cities in the country saw an average 29% increase in bicycle fatalities since the group released its 2010 report. That number may change if the planned 20,908 miles of bike facilities and 7,079 miles of pedestrian facilities across the country are funded.

It can be dangerous out there for those who travel by bike or foot: 12% of trips in the U.S. are taken via cycling or walking, but 14% of those involved in fatal traffic accidents are bicyclists and pedestrians.

The report also found a discrepancy between trips taken by car and bike or foot in the U.S. In 2009, 40% of trips were less than two miles, but 87% of them were taken by car.

Links between obesity and cycling and walking were not missed. Bicycling and walking levels dropped 66% between 1960 and 2009, but obesity rates increased 156%.

The alliance is an Washington, D.C.-based association of state and local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations. A synopsis of the report said it should be "used as a tool by cities and states to learn what works best to promote bicycling and walking and what is possible here in the United States."

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