From federal and state mandates to individual department checklists, pedestrians, bicycles and transit are receiving greater consideration, and not just in studies specific to these modes, but in a wide range of transportation-related studies. They reflect a concerted effort at all levels of government to counteract the adverse effects of transportation policies aimed at improving auto mobility to the determent of other modes, such as:
In 1977, over two-thirds of children walked to school. In 2007, 13 percent walk (and 25 percent of AM peak hour traffic is school related). Experts including the UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center agree that the rate of pedestrian-related collisions declines as more people walk.
- One in four children are overweight. And it is not just children who are growing obese – 30 percent of U.S. adults are now considered obese.
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), motor vehicles are responsible for two-thirds of the Carbon Monoxide in the atmosphere, and over half of the Carbon Dioxide, the emission chiefly responsible for global warming.
Pedestrians and bicycles, represent a disproportionate share of collisions and fatalities. In 2000 in the San Francisco Bay Area:
- Pedestrians represented 30 percent of fatalities related to collisions and only 10 percent of the trips.
- Bicycles comprised 7 percent of injuries (4 percent of fatalities) and only 1.5 percent of trips.
Recent transportation policy shifts include Federal transportation funding legislation that continues to increase allocations for pedestrians and bicycles and State policies and local policies:
- The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the most recent Federal transportation funding law, funds safe Route to School Programs at $612 Million through 2009.
- Caltrans has adopted Deputy Directive 64 that says that: The Department fully considers the needs of non-motorized travelers (including pedestrian bicyclists and persons with disabilities) in all programming, planning, maintenance, construction, operations and project development activities and products. This includes incorporation of the best available standards in all of the Department’s practices. The Department adopts the best practice concepts in the U.S. DOT Policy Statement on “Integrating Bicycling and Walking into Transportation Infrastructure.”