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Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program: 2014 Report

Evaluation and Results

While the 2012 Final Report to Congress presented evaluation of results through 2010, this section updates (for 2011-2013) and expands upon earlier findings.8 Given that many NTPP investments were not completed until after 2010, these data represent the most comprehensive evaluation of the NTPP to date. As described earlier, many NTPP projects are still being implemented (see Figure 4). The pilot communities will continue to develop new nonmotorized transportation improvements with NTPP funds over the next three years.

When the WG initiated NTPP analysis and reporting discussions in late 2005, it assessed reporting options based on the legislative goals of the NTPP, data availability, and a limited evaluation budget. Given these constraints, the WG developed a collaborative approach to data collection and evaluation, relying on directly collected data, where feasible, and supplementary existing national, State, and local data sources, where available. Evaluation areas fall under the following themes:

The WG developed and implemented evaluation approaches to assess the travel behavior impacts of nonmotorized investments, grounded in a community-wide count approach and following the National Pedestrian and Bicycle Demonstration Project methodology. Using community-wide counts collected over the course of seven years (2007-2013) as "bookends" to measure progress, the WG modeled annual changes in nonmotorized trips and vehicle miles averted. These estimates form the basis of averted emissions and gasoline usage calculations under the Environment and Energy theme and the exposure and economic cost of mortality estimates under the Safety and Public Health theme.

The counts and estimates, in addition to locally administered surveys and outside data sources, contributed to the evaluation, which the WG decided to report at three different scales:

The WG recognizes that the evaluation results are not completely attributable to NTPP investments because:

Recommendations for addressing and better understanding the impact of community-wide investments are provided in the Future Research and NTPP Legacy sections. Despite these uncertainties, the WG's analysis reveals that, over the seven-year measurement period, concurrent increases in active transportation and accessibility improvements helped reduce emissions and energy usage and improve health and safety outcomes.

Mode Share Shift

Key Highlights

  • Walking mode share increased 15.8 percent from 2007 to 2013.
  • Bicycling mode share increased 44 percent from 2007 to 2013.
  • 85.1 million VMT were averted by nonmotorized trips between 2009 and 2013 relative to the 2007 baseline.

To gauge an on-the-ground increase or decrease in nonmotorized activity, each pilot community conducted counts of bicyclists and pedestrians on days in the fall at predetermined locations every year between 2007 and 2013. The methodology for these counts followed the National Pedestrian and Bicycle Documentation Project, developed by Alta Planning and Design and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.9

According to Alta Planning and Design, "Studies have shown that activity levels of bicyclists and pedestrians may vary as much as 30 percent or more on a daily basis at the same location (even on sequential days)."10 To address this variability, the results in this section present activity as a three-year moving average, with each annual count calculated as the average of the current and previous two years. For example, the 2010 count is the average of the 2008, 2009, and 2010 counts. This method, which is used by the American Community Survey for many of its data tables and reports, mitigates year-to-year variability, instead showing a smoother trend over time. For reference, actual count volumes recorded in each year are provided in Appendix C.

Program-Level

Using three-year moving averages, Figure 6 shows the results of the pilot communities' annual pedestrian and bicycle counts. Based on these results, the WG estimates that the number of pedestrian and bicycle trips in the pilot communities increased by 19 percent and 62 percent, respectively compared to the baseline year (2007).11 From 2007 to 2013, these increases equate to 3.7 and 10.5 percent average annual growth rates for walking and bicycling, respectively.

Figure 6: Program-Level Annual Nonmotorized Count Percent Change from Baseline (2007) (3-Year Moving Averages)

Figure 6 shows program level annual nonmotorized counts percent change from baseline 2007 with 3-year moving averages (2009 to 2013). 2009: Pedestrians - 9%; Bicyclists - 27%. 2010: Pedestrians - 16%; Bicyclists - 43%. 2011: Pedestrians - 23%; Bicyclists - 52%. 2012: Pedestrians - 23%; Bicyclists - 58%. 2013: Pedestrians - 19%; Bicyclists - 62%.

Table 4 and Table 5 show the annual pedestrian and bicyclist counts by community.

Table 4: Annual Pedestrian Counts (3-Year Moving Averages, Except for 2007 Baseline Year)

Year Columbia Marin County Minneapolis Area Sheboygan County All Pilots
2007 900 9,203 2,522 80 12,705
2009 1,047 10,173 2,590 83 13,893
2010 1,089 10,879 2,733 86 14,787
2011 1,196 11,485 2,836 102 15,619
2012 1,169 11,385 2,919 125 15,597
2013 1,100 11,031 2,877 148 15,155

Table 5: Annual Bicyclist Counts (3-Year Moving Averages, Except for 2007 Baseline Year)

Year Columbia Marin County Minneapolis Area Sheboygan County All Pilots
2007 202 3,820 4,102 66 8,190
2009 239 4,934 5,175 71 10,419
2010 257 5,785 5,630 76 11,748
2011 285 6,331 5,800 74 12,489
2012 285 6,501 6,077 70 12,933
2013 291 6,323 6,563 65 13,243

Community-Wide

Figure 7 to Figure 10 show pedestrian and bicyclist count changes in each community.

Columbia

In Columbia (Figure 7), walking increased an estimated 22 percent and bicycling increased an estimated 44 percent between 2007 and 2013. These increases equate to an estimated average annual growth rate of 7.7 and 4.4 percent for bicycling and walking, respectively.

Figure 7: Annual Columbia Count Percent Change from Baseline (2007) (3-Year Moving Averages)

Figure 7 shows annual Columbia count percent changes from baseline (2007) with 3-year moving averages (2009 to 2013). 2009: Pedestrians - 16%; Bicyclists - 18%. 2010: Pedestrians - 21%; Bicyclists - 27%. 2011: Pedestrians - 33%; Bicyclists - 41%. 2012: Pedestrians - 30%; Bicyclists - 41%. 2013: Pedestrians - 22%; Bicyclists - 44%.

According to Columbia, early implementation of several intersection improvements at Stewart and Providence Roads in particular (one of the data collection locations) may explain the early increase in measured pedestrian traffic. Bicycle facilities are still being implemented, which could explain the consistent increase in bicycle traffic. Additionally, Columbia made an early large investment in promotion and education. This investment may not have had a significant effect on the results. A longer, but less intense promotion and education effort may be more effective.

Marin County

Figure 8 shows that walking increased an estimated 20 percent and bicycling increased an estimated 66 percent in Marin County between 2007 and 2013. These increases equate to an estimated 3.8 and 12 percent average annual growth rate for walking and bicycling, respectively.

Figure 8: Annual Marin County Count Percent Change from Baseline (2007) (3-Year Moving Averages)

Figure 8 shows annual Marin County count percent change from baseline (2007) with 3-year moving averages (2009 to 2013). 2009: Pedestrians - 11%; Bicyclists - 29%. 2010: Pedestrians - 18%; Bicyclists - 51%. 2011: Pedestrians - 25%; Bicyclists - 66%. 2012: Pedestrians - 24%; Bicyclists - 70%. 2013: Pedestrians - 20%; Bicyclists - 66%.

According to Marin County, nearly all of its 24 individual infrastructure projects, 13 stairway connection projects, and 23 signal improvement projects were completed between 2009 and early 2012. This suggests that the increases in pedestrian and bicycling activity resulted from various projects incrementally coming on line over that period. Marin County designed an intensive outreach campaign between 2008 and 2011 in order to increase awareness of the new facilities and encourage bicycling and walking countywide as a means to get around. The lack of any major expansion of the countywide pedestrian or bicycle network in 2013 is likely the reason that usage increases leveled off for 2013.

Minneapolis Area

In the Minneapolis area (Figure 9), walking increased an estimated 14 percent and bicycling increased an estimated 60 percent between 2007 and 2013. These increases equate to an estimated 2.8 and 9.5 percent average annual growth rates for walking and bicycling, respectively.

Figure 9: Annual Minneapolis Area Count Percent Change from Baseline (2007) (3-Year Moving Averages)

Figure 9 shows annual Minneapolis Area count percent change from baseline (2007) with 3-year moving averages (2009 to 2013). 2009: Pedestrians - 3%; Bicyclists - 26%. 2010: Pedestrians - 8%; Bicyclists - 37%. 2011: Pedestrians - 12%; Bicyclists - 41%. 2012: Pedestrians - 16%; Bicyclists - 48%. 2013: Pedestrians - 14%; Bicyclists - 60%.

According to TLC, the steady increase of bicycling in the Minneapolis area may be understood, in part, by a strategic and comprehensive approach that began in 2006. The focus for the first two years was building momentum and laying a foundation for future work by completing planning studies, building technical capacity, and garnering political support. Activities of the Bike Walk Ambassadors, Smart Trips social marketing, TLC's Bike Walk Move campaign, and numerous workshops and trainings helped create the support for the innovative facilities that soon followed, including the first bicycle boulevards in the Midwest, the Nice Ride Minnesota Bike Sharing program, and buffered bike lanes as part of road diets. By 2012, TLC demonstrated a greatly expanded network, doubling the on-street bikeways in the Minneapolis area, and held numerous ribbon-cutting ceremonies and other events to increase awareness about the new options for nonmotorized travel. Walking has also increased over the years, but not as dramatically as bicycling. TLC surmises that as conditions for bicycling have improved, some walkers may have switched to using bicycles for transportation purposes.

It is clear that better facilities encourage more bicycling and walking, as TLC noted when comparing pedestrian and bicycling volumes at the different locations where counts were conducted over the years. Locations where significant improvements were made consistently show the greatest increases in walking and bicycling.

Sheboygan County

Walking increased an estimated 85 percent and bicycling decreased an estimated one percent between 2007 and 2013 in Sheboygan County (Figure 10). This increase equates to an estimated 14 percent average annual growth rate for walking. The estimated annual growth rate for bicycling is zero percent comparing 2013 to 2007; however increases were observed in the intermediate years.

Figure 10: Annual Sheboygan County Count Percent Change from Baseline (2007) (3-Year Moving Averages)

Figure 10 shows annual Sheboygan County count percent change from baseline (2007) with 3-year moving averages.  2009: Pedestrians - 4%; Bicyclists - 8%. 2010: Pedestrians - 8%; Bicyclists - 15%. 2011: Pedestrians - 27%; Bicyclists - 12%. 2012: Pedestrians - 56%; Bicyclists - 6%. 2013: Pedestrians - 85%; Bicyclists - minus %.

According to Sheboygan County staff, prior to the implementation of the NTPP, the county lacked a structured nonmotorized network. Coupled with a lack of awareness and no existing plan for pedestrians and bicyclists, nonmotorized usage was relatively low in the early years of the program. The geographic nature of the county also contributed to a higher mode share of motorized transportation than the other communities, considering it remains the least dense with greater distances between its cities, villages, and towns, and with a much higher proportion of rural land area.

After early implementation of smaller scale NTPP projects, however, Sheboygan County has measured a substantial increase in walking between 2009 and 2013. Since sidewalks are inherently less costly and easier to construct than large-scale projects like multiuse pathways, these were some of the first accommodations to reach completion. Walking counts nearly doubled each of the first three years and have continued to show considerable growth at the count locations.

Bicycle use, however, has fluctuated but remained relatively steady overall since the base year. A decline for the first time in 2013 can be attributed to construction of NTPP-funded facilities at a quarter of the count locations at the time counts were recorded; this construction was so extensive that bicycling or walking was difficult. Sheboygan County, however, completed over $10 million of NTPP- and municipal-funded bicycle and pedestrian projects in 2013, which now provide better accessibility, safety, and visibility for bicycle users. The most highly anticipated and expensive project, a three mile multiuse path, is expected to show promising results once construction is completed in 2015.

Sheboygan County chose to wait until many of its infrastructure projects had been built before rolling out an extensive marketing campaign. Beginning in 2014, the county is partnering with the Chamber of Commerce to invest more directly and heavily in touting the benefits of nonmotorized transportation to both its residents and visitors.

Mode Shift Calculations

Because no model was available to meet the reporting needs of the NTPP, the WG developed a model to calculate nonmotorized mode share changes for all trip purposes and VMT averted at the community level. WG members developed the model, with reviews by several academic peers. The Volpe Center submitted a paper and presentation describing the model at the Transportation Research Board's 2013 Annual Meeting.12 The Final Report to Congress includes a description of how the overall NTPP methodology and model work.

According to estimates from the model, bicycling as a mode share increased every year; walking increased each year with a peak in 2012 and slight decline in 2013; and driving decreased each year in the pilot communities with a slight increase in 2013 (Figure 11). Specifically, walking increased from an estimated 12.8 percent of mode share in 2007 to 14.8 percent in 2013 (an increase of 15.8 percent). Bicycling in the pilot communities increased from an estimated 1.0 percent of mode share in 2007 to 1.5 percent of mode share in 2013 (an increase of 44 percent).

Figure 11: Mode Share Changes Compared to Baseline (2007) (3-Year Moving Averages)

Figure 11 shows mode share changes compared to baseline (2007) with 3-year moving averages (2009 to 2013). Walking increased each year with a peak in 2012  of 2.2% and a slight decline in 2013 with 2.0%. Vehicle use declined each year in the pilot communities with a slight increase in 2013. Biking saw a steady increase from 0.2% in 2009 up to 0.4% in 2012 and 0.5% in 2013.

For context, no national-level data source annually estimates mode share for all trip purposes across all modes. However, it is possible to compare the NTPP results to the findings of the American Community Survey (ACS), which estimates commuter mode share across all modes at a national level. From 2007 to 2012, commuter mode share for walking decreased from 2.9 to 2.8 percent (a decrease of approximately 3 percent) and bicycling increased from 0.5 percent to 0.6 percent (an increase of approximately 20 percent).13 One reason the estimated nonmotorized mode shares in the NTPP communities are substantially higher before and after program implementation is because the NTPP communities are, on average, more urban and densely developed than the country as a whole. However, this study does show that the percentage increase in walking and bicycling mode share in the pilot communities was greater than the national average mode share change over the same time period.

The estimated number of vehicle trips replaced by nonmotorized trips followed the same patterns as mode share (Table 6), as did the number of vehicle miles replaced by nonmotorized miles (Figure 12). An estimated 25.5 miles were walked per capita (over the age of 16) that would have otherwise been driven in 2013. An estimated 5.7 miles were bicycled per capita (over the age of 16) that would have otherwise been driven in 2013.

Table 6: Averted Vehicle Trips and Trips per Capita (16 Years or Older) per Year Compared to Baseline (2007) (3-Year Moving Averages)

  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Averted Vehicle Trips by Walking 3,719,366 8,928,836 17,181,961 19,886,546 18,455,357
Averted Vehicle Trips by Bicycling 1,859,882 2,958,954 3,693,277 3,898,411 4,145,049
Total Averted Vehicle Trips 5,579,248 11,887,790 20,875,238 23,784,957 22,600,405
Averted Trips per Capita by Walking 5.4 12.8 24.4 27.9 25.5
Averted Trips per Capita by Bicycling 2.7 4.2 5.2 5.5 5.7
Total Averted Trips per Capita 8.0 17.0 29.7 33.3 31.2

Figure 12: Annual Averted Vehicle Miles Compared to Baseline (2007) (Using 3-Year Moving Averages)

Figure 12 shows annual averted vehicle miles compared to baseline (2007) using 3-year moving averages.  2009: Walking - 2.6; Bicycling - 4.2. 2010: Walkings - 6.3; Bicycling - 6.7. 2011: Walking - 12.0; Bicycling - 8.3. 2012: Walking - 13.9; Bicycling - 8.8. 2013: Walking - 12.9; Bicycling - 9.4.

In sum, an estimated 85.1 million VMT were averted by nonmotorized trips between 2009 and 2013 (Figure 12). Though usually shorter than bicycle trips, an estimated 80.5 percent of those miles were attributed to walking trips since walking trips are made more frequently than bicycling trips. Between 2009 and 2013, however, bicycling trips and miles increased every year in the pilot communities while walking trips and miles decreased slightly in 2013.

Updated: 5/30/2014
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