Jun 16, 2010 3:10 PM by Melissa Canone
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration more than doubled
transportation spending on bicycling and walking last year as it
seeks to coax Americans out of their cars, according to a Federal
Highway Administration report released Wednesday.
Spending on biking and walking projects rose from less than $600
million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2009. Twenty years ago, the
federal government was spending only $6 million a year on such
The spending on biking and walking projects was scheduled to
rise last year anyway, but the administration boosted it with $400
million in funds set aside under the economic recovery program.
The new focus on biking and walking represents a turnaround from
the administration of President George W. Bush. Mary Peters,
transportation secretary under Bush, dismissed biking paths and
trails as projects that "really are not transportation," saying
they had no place in federal transportation policy.
In March, Obama's transportation secretary, Ray LaHood,
announced a policy "sea change" that gives biking and walking
projects the same importance as automobiles in transportation
planning and the selection of projects for federal money.
The new policy is an extension of the Obama administration's
livability initiative, which regards the creation of alternatives
to driving - buses, streetcars, trolleys and trains, as well as
biking and walking - as central to solving the nation's
Biking and walking is on the rise, according to the report,
which is based on annual survey data. The number of reported
walking trips has more than doubled since the first survey, from 18
billion in 1990 to 42.5 billion in 2009. Bicycling trips saw a
similar increase, from 1.7 billion to 4 billion during the same
Together, the two modes account for 11.9 percent of all reported
trips by Americans. Biking is less than 1 percent of the total.
"Americans want and need safe alternatives to driving," LaHood
said in a statement. "By making biking and walking safer and more
accessible, we'll be able to provide Americans with more choices
and help foster more active, livable communities."