Bicycling and Walking - how does the region stack up?

The Alliance for Biking & Walking's Benchmarking Project is an ongoing effort to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and at least the 50 largest cities. They have just released their 2010 report. How does our region stack up?

1st = top third of states/cities (good)
2nd = middle third of states/cities
3rd = worst third of states/cities (bad)

  Mode Share Safety Funding Staffing Bike/Ped policies Advocacy Capacity
Louisville 2nd 3rd 2nd 1st 1st 1st
Indianapolis 3rd 2nd 1st 3rd 3rd 3rd
Nashville 3rd 3rd 1st no data 3rd 1st
Kentucky 3rd 2nd 2nd 3rd 2nd no data
Indiana 3rd 2nd 2nd 3rd 3rd 1st
Ohio 3rd 2nd 2nd 3rd 3rd 2nd

My take on this below the fold...


Louisville can be proud of the long term indicators for bicycling and walking. We've got strong staffing at the city level. We've got strong policies, namely Complete Streets. And we've got strong-ish Advocacy Capacity (CART and Bicycling for Louisville).

Our funding is rated as passable (0.8% of federal transpo dollars), but how in heck did Indy (1.9%) and Nashville (3.3%!?) get so far ahead of us? Plus in an absolute sense, we're spending too little: 0.8% of our federal transportation dollars, when we have between 3.5% and 9% mode-share that use some or both of bike/ped, and of course walkers and bikers take the brunt of the highway crashes. So there's still massive inequity in the way we spend our transportation dollars. However, there is one factor they probably didn't consider in their rankings that weights in our favor: Dirk Gowin at Public Works is a new dynamo when it comes to submitting applications for federal dollars. If this survey were updated today and included more recent activity (stimuluus), I'd wager we'd climb a few ranks.

But now for the bad news: the near term indicators, the output of the four other rankings, are still pretty bad. Mode share is middling (and we were just above the bar for bad). Safety is terrible, largely owing to our outdated speed-before-safety arterials and massive sprawlisections controlled by unreliable stop lights. We're moving to address this, and there are promising signs, but do you have total faith we're going to prevail? Me neither.


Kentucky gets poor marks on staffing, because we can't hire and retain a bike/ped coordinator long enough for them to get anything done. There was a meeting on this issue at KYTC (today), and Mike Hancock has taken action to fix this problem! Three cheers!

Our "Advocacy Capacity" is "no data" because we're so far from having a statewide bike or ped organization that we killed their googlers, I guess.

A strange result is that we got a middling grade for bike/ped statewide policies, when I'd have expected a bottom third. Most of our good policies are a result of benign neglect. Drilling down, they seem to be misinformed about KYTC's Complete Streets Policy. Its a policy in name only, with no requirements, funding, or even additional paperwork to explain why they don't feel like providing active transportation. It has been used as a fig leaf by KYTC district 5 to deny bike/ped provisions. However, I've seen with my own eyes plentiful facilities being installed in District 6 (Covington) on KYTC's initiative. That's exactly the sort of variation that a real Complete Streets Law would normalize.

And our safety is middling because once you get out of the exurbs, things are actually totally rideable. Its rather pleasant, really.

Indiana Advocates Lead the Way

Indiana has excellent advocacy capacity? Well come to think of it, I've been up to Indy for fascinating conferences by Health By Design three times and Bicycle Indiana is slugging it out for a Complete Streets bill on the floor of the state legislature as we speak. Hooray for Indiana advocacy organizations!


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