This chapter discusses and summarizes other important benefits of the NTPP, in addition to those considered in earlier chapters. These benefits respond to directions in the legislation for NTPP to assess how changes in nonmotorized usage affect energy usage, health, and the environment, and other priorities the WG set for the program. This chapter is divided into sections that consider benefits related to:
Each section describes the focus the WG has taken for benefits related to these complex goals; includes analysis of quantitative impacts; and highlights examples of pilot projects developed to accomplish these goals. The quantitative analysis is within the limits of the available evaluation methods and data, and is largely based on the community-wide results, including averted VMT, as presented in section 4.2.
The WG chose to focus on increased levels of physical activity from walking and bicycling and crash rates for pedestrians and bicyclists under the broad topic of health benefits. This is in addition to the important health benefits associated with reductions in toxic air emissions discussed above.
The 2011 National Prevention Strategy, authored by the U.S. Surgeon General in partnership with 17 agencies including DOT, identifies the creation of safe and healthy communities as a key strategy to improving the Nation's health. The construction of networks of pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, such as those constructed through the NTPP, is identified as an evidence-based means to accomplish these prevention goals. Furthermore, the Community Guide to Preventive Health Services, which is sponsored by the CDC to comprehensively review relevant research and produce scientifically sound recommendations, recommends the construction of pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure as a way to increase physical activity.
Regular physical activity improves health. Lack of physical activity is the Nation's third leading risk factor for death, behind tobacco, and alcohol. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults achieve at least 150 minutes per week of moderate cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or bicycling, in addition to strength training. Periods of cardiovascular activity can be as short as 10 minutes to provide benefit. Data collected through the NTPP (Table 13 in section 4.2) suggest that walking and bicycling trips are sufficient in length to create health benefits; moreover, in at least three of the pilot communities, nonmotorized trips cover more distance than the national average, suggesting an even greater benefit. According to public health researchers, regular physical activity such as that achieved through walking and bicycling trips facilitated by NTPP investments:
The physical activity benefits of the investments made through this program will continue to provide dividends long into the future, as the new facilities become further established as part of transportation networks.
The NTPP model provides rough estimates of increases in physical activity in the pilot communities from the 2005 base year. The estimates are derived from the total reduced VMT replaced by walking and bicycling, as presented in section 4.2, as assumptions on average nonmotorized trip distances and times. Based on this calculation, the average person living in the NTPP communities walked 6 minutes and bicycled 1.25 minutes more per week in 2010 than in 2007. These additional minutes are helping people reach the CDC's recommendation that people undertake moderate-intensity aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes per week. It would require additional future data collection and analysis to move beyond the limits of these broad averages to identify a distribution of activity levels among individuals necessary to more accurately measure health benefits from the net increases in community and program levels of activity.
Working with the CDC, the NTPP applied the World Health Organization's Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) for Cycling to estimate the economic savings resulting from reduced mortality from increased bicycling in the pilot communities in 2010. To run this calculation, the CDC entered the total number of new bicycling trips that were made in 2010 (as shown in Table 13), which are in addition to the expected number of bicycling trips that would have been made in 2010 given 2007 bicycling rates. Applying this model, the added nonmotorized trips in the pilot communities taken in 2010 reduce the economic cost of mortality by $6.9 million. These results are for a single year of increased bicycling only; results for the duration of the infrastructure's life span will likely greatly increase this amount.
This estimate is likely conservative because it is based only on benefits of reduced mortality (death) and not of reduced morbidity (illness) and only calculates reduced mortality due to increased physical activity (and does not consider safety or the health benefits of improved air quality), and only includes bicycling for utilitarian purposes. As discussed in the safety section below, bicycle and pedestrian fatalities have not increased despite growth in rates of walking and bicycling in the pilot communities; consequently, health benefits would not have to be adjusted down.
The estimated economic savings from reduced morbidity would likely greatly surpass the economic savings of reduced mortality. Furthermore, the HEAT uses conservative inputs; the actual savings are likely higher than the estimate above. The HEAT model to estimate the benefits of increased walking has not yet been calibrated with U.S. values; in the future, it will likely provide estimates of significant additional economic savings from reduced mortality.
This discussion and the estimates of health benefits are provided to demonstrate an important future area of analysis for the pilots as they complete their networks and for communities interested in estimating or measuring the impacts of nonmotorized investments. This analysis will be increasingly possible as models and tools such as HEAT are further refined and as data collection for walking and bicycling trips becomes more common.
The NTPP focused on improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, in addition to the goal of increasing the rates of walking and bicycling in the four pilot communities. Each community has invested NTPP funds in nonmotorized infrastructure and programming that improves safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Virtually all of the infrastructure projects improve safety directly or indirectly, and each community instituted programs aimed specifically at educating the public about walking and bicycling safety. Comprehensive and conclusive safety data for each of the communities is not yet available, but preliminary results suggest that bicycle and pedestrian safety has remained the same, despite increases in bicycling and walking rates in each pilot community.
Table 3 indicates that fatal bicycle and pedestrian crashes have remained relatively steady from 2005 to 2009. This is notable because during this time period, each pilot community experienced increases in bicycling and walking (see section 4.2). Therefore, it is possible that later data will continue to indicate that injury and fatality rates (fatalities per 1,000 pedestrians, for example) will have decreased. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles annual statistics on fatal crashes in its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia. Table 22 shows fatal bicycle crashes by year, and Table 4 shows fatal pedestrian crashes in each of the counties where pilot communities are located. There is research literature that documents this trend in other cities. Conclusions from FARS are limited because numbers are so small, providing the potential for major percentage changes based on a very limited number of events. Analysis of safety trends in the pilots is limited by the lack of consistent and detailed injury data for the four study areas.
Table 22: Fatal Bicycle Crashes by County, 2005-2009
|Sheboygan County, WI|
|Total roadway fatalities||11||9||13||11||13|
|Total roadway fatalities||9||15||8||8||10|
|Total roadway fatalities||20||15||26||23||17|
|Marin County, CA|
|Total roadway fatalities||11||9||12||7||10|
Source: NHTSA, FARS
These data have a couple limitations. First, fatalities do not tell a complete story about safety; such data excludes injuries and perceived safety, which may be better indicators of overall community-wide safety. Also, while the years of the FARS data coincide with the timeline of the NTPP up to 2009, a great many of the projects were not completed at the time of the most recent data collection, and other completed projects were not open for use long enough to be fairly assessed for their impacts.
Despite these limitations, FARS data are the only safety data that are consistent across all four pilot communities, which makes it an effective way to measure changes in safety over time. Community-level data on crash-related injuries are inconsistent among the four pilot communities and therefore were not used for this report. Future analysis of FARS data could provide a better perspective of the effects of NTPP investments on safety after all projects are built-out and established as part of community networks.
The investments that the pilot communities have made in infrastructure and programming will encourage residents to bicycle and walk while promoting safety among all road and path users. Given the currently available data and their limitations, no changes in safety can be derived. However, as the communities continue to build their bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and implement their programming, they may see additional roadway safety improvements. Further analysis could provide a better understanding of the impacts of NTPP investments on safety in each community as data become available.
The pilot communities assumed that all projects, whether for infrastructure or education, produce physical activity benefits to the extent that they encourage more walking and bicycling. Examples of infrastructure and outreach projects that explicitly focus on safety include:
The pilot communities also used NTPP funds for programs that educate adults, children, and law enforcement officials about walking and bicycling safety. Examples include:
Environment and Energy Savings
To consider impacts on the environment, the WG focused on emissions of criteria pollutants identified under the Federal Clean Air Act Amendments and carbon dioxide (CO2), the major transportation-related greenhouse gas and an important contributor to global climate change. To consider the impacts of program investments on energy use, the WG focused on energy savings from shifts from driving to walking and bicycling.
According to FHWA's NHTS, most walking and bicycling trips are short: 40 percent are within 2 miles of home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes 5 miles or less. Most air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide (CO), which are regulated under the Clean Air Act, are emitted within a few minutes of starting a vehicle because of engine characteristics, making these trips more polluting per mile from the perspective of respiratory health.
Each gallon of gas burned produces 19.4 pounds of CO2, nearly a pound per mile driven on average. Automobiles, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, are responsible for about 20 percent of the CO2 emissions in the U.S.
The WG estimated changes in air quality over the period of the program using a table of conversions (Appendix 4). Table 23 shows the impact of the NTPP on these pollutants in 2010 and between 2007 and 2010. The input for these conversions is the averted VMT figures presented in section 4.2. With a combined population of 702,986 people over the age of 16 in the pilot communities in 2010, the NTPP estimates that almost 22 pounds of CO2 were saved in 2010 per person (over the age of 16) or 7,701 tons collectively between the pilot communities. This amount is equivalent to saving more than 1 gallon of gas for every person older than 16 in the pilot communities in 2010.
Table 23: Air Quality Benefits of the NTPP
|Pollutant||Reduction/Savings in Pounds|
|Per Day||In 2010||2007-2010|
|Particulate Matter (PM)10||0.59||217||434|
|Nitrogen Oxides (NOX)||109||39,651||79,302|
|Carbon Monoxide (CO)||1,418||517,548||1,035,097|
|Carbon Dioxide (CO2)||42,195||15,401,235||30,802,470|
Averted VMT can also be converted into energy savings, measured in gallons of gasoline or British Thermal Units (BTUs, the standard measure of energy) saved. For gasoline savings, it is assumed that the average passenger car fuel efficiency is 22.6 miles per gallon. For BTUs, it is assumed that the average gallon of conventional gasoline contains 113,500 BTUs. Table 24 presents these conversions.
Table 24: Energy Savings of the NTPP
|Per Person in 2010||Total in 2010||Total from 2007-2010|
|Gallons of Gasoline||1.19||837,696||1,675,392|
|British Thermal Units (BTUs)||135,249||95 billion||190 billion|
The pilot communities assumed that all projects, whether for infrastructure or education, produce environmental and energy benefits to the extent that they encourage shifts from car travel to walking and bicycling. Some examples where these benefits were explicitly considered include:
The WG identified improved access through providing additional transportation options as a goal for the four pilot communities. In particular, the pilots focused on improving nonmotorized connections to public transit and access for individuals with limited mobility options - children and older residents, low-income groups, and individuals with disabilities. The intent was to improve access to opportunities, whether for work, education, or recreation, and ultimately, to improve the economic vitality and quality of life in the communities.
Although all NTPP projects were intended to improve community access, examples of projects with this explicit focus include:
Through the course of the pilot program, FHWA and the communities have celebrated many successes, and also learned many lessons about nonmotorized transportation planning, implementation, and evaluation. There have also been many lessons about the program itself, and insights into how to design and administer such programs. Based on the discussions in the previous sections of this report, this chapter offers a selection of insights and lessons learned related to the following categories:
Moving into the future, the pilot communities will maximize the transportation benefits of the pilot investments. Activity continues to implement remaining infrastructure projects; execute awareness, outreach, education and enforcement work; and collect data to evaluate and learn from the program. Their data collection efforts will benefit the communities themselves and the wider field of transportation. The NTPP provides opportunities to refine transportation-related data collection and modeling methodology and to further develop methods that could be used more broadly across the Nation. The four communities represent a diverse cross-section of the country, with different populations, demographic profiles, urban settings, and needs for nonmotorized transportation. The results of this program provide insight into how to maximize the return on nonmotorized investments in a variety of contexts. As transportation agencies consider the importance of using performance measures to prioritize and track investments, the data and results from programs like NTPP will be even more important.
It is important to continue to build safe and convenient multimodal transportation networks. Safe and comprehensive networks provide more (and more affordable) options for transportation, housing, employment, and services, and can also be a more efficient and cost-effective way to provide government services. Increasing walking and bicycling also improves individual and community health. Continuing partnerships with organizations like the CDC and local health departments is important to continue the emphasis on the nexus between transportation choices, health, and the attendant costs and benefits to the individual and public at large. To accomplish these goals, communities will need a variety of methods and tools, including dedicated funding, leveraging and combining multiple funding sources to undertake large-scale projects, policy changes, improved data collection and performance measures, meaningful public engagement, and broad partnerships and coalitions. The NTPP communities engaged in all of these strategies, and the new partnerships formed were able to leverage the significant additional resources well beyond the scale of the original Federal investment.
The experience of the pilot communities demonstrates how Federal resources for nonmotorized transportation are used, and highlights the significance of what can be accomplished with a more concentrated focus. Access to such resources allows the opportunity to take a more strategic approach, stepping back to view community needs and allowing for a comprehensive set of investments, including infrastructure and non-infrastructure. The communities engaged in a wide range of innovative and important activities, including:
Programs like NTPP reflect the ability of nonmotorized investments to transform communities, improving quality of life, by expanding access to safe and healthy travel options.
Despite all the work accomplished and reported by the pilot communities to date, as the full program investment is realized, important aspects can be assessed in greater depth. These include the following considerations of concentrated, strategic, nonmotorized investments:
The findings from NTPP demonstrate the importance of nonmotorized transportation and how these transportation modes can enrich communities. In March 2010, the DOT released a Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations, which stressed the importance of building safe and convenient multimodal transportation systems. The findings from the NTPP affirm these words of the Policy Statement:
Increased commitment to and investment in bicycle facilities and walking networks can help meet goals for cleaner, healthier air; less congested roadways; and more livable, safe, cost-efficient communities. Walking and bicycling provide low-cost mobility options that place fewer demands on local roads and highways. DOT recognizes that safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities may look different depending on the context - appropriate facilities in a rural community may be different from a dense, urban area. However, regardless of regional, climate, and population density differences, it is important that pedestrian and bicycle facilities be integrated into transportation systems. While DOT leads the effort to provide safe and convenient accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists, success will ultimately depend on transportation agencies across the country embracing and implementing this policy.