People Power - Bicycling and Walking

Bicycling

Fewer people are using bicycles or walking for local trips. The car has replaced "people power," even for short trips to the local grocery store. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, walking as a percentage of trips has declined nearly 50 percent since the 1970s. For children, bicycling as a way of getting around has declined by about one-third during that same time period.

Though the popularity of walking and bicycling seems to be decreasing, many people use the two as forms of exercise rather than as modes of transportation. But that may be changing as more emphasis is being placed on urban bike trails and as people move into inner cities and live closer to their jobs.

In California, hundreds of miles of urban bike trails can be found in the major cities: San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco.

Of the more than 4,000 miles of freeways in California, about 1,000 miles are open to bicyclists. These open sections are usually in rural areas where there is no alternate route.

For more information, please contact:

Ken McGuire
Bicycle Facilities Unit, MS 1
California Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
Phone: (916) 653-2750
Fax: (916) 653-1905
E-Mail: Ken_Mcguire@dot.ca.gov


Walking

Walking is excellent exercise. Americans are too sedentary, relying on cars to go a few blocks to work or school. So, a better way to get around for short distances would be to put on a good pair of athletic or walking shoes and WALK. It saves money and energy and helps you shed a few pounds too.

A Caltrans report - California Blueprint for Bicycling and Walking published in May 2002 - outlined state plans for a 50 percent increase in people walking to work. The report said, "The 2000 Census found that in Massachusetts, 3.9 percent of commuters walked to work; in California, 2.7 percent walked. A 50 percent increase in pedestrian commuters would place California slightly above Massachusetts' current level (though still far below New York's 5.3 percent pedestrian share)."

The PBS Show "America's Walking," (www.pbs.org/americaswalking/index.html) offered some Ways to Make Your Community More Walkable.

  1. Organize a neighborhood cleanup day or simply take a bag and pick up trash along your normal walking routes.
  2. Trim hedges or trees that might block sidewalks or obscure a pedestrian's view at a crosswalk; ask your neighbors to do the same (or offer to do it for them).
  3. Be a considerate driver - set an example by driving at safe speeds in neighborhoods, letting pedestrians cross at intersections, and not stopping in crosswalks. Urge family and friends to do the same.
  4. Notify the animal control officer of scary dogs and the police of suspicious activity.
  5. Plant trees and flowers if you have property abutting sidewalks or trails. Or adopt and care for a public space or garden (many towns encourage this) along walking routes.
  6. Report streetlights or signal lights that are out to your local department of public works.
  7. If you have sidewalks on your property, set an example by quickly clearing it of snow, leaves, or other debris.