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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-088
Date: July 2006

Lesson 2: Bicycling and Walking in the United States Today

The picture shows a tree-lined downtown street with a bike lane and four bicyclists riding in the bike lane in the direction of the camera.

Cambridge, MA
(This picture shows bicyclists not wearing helmets. FHWA strongly recommends that all bicyclists wear helmets.)

Lesson Outline

  • How much biking and walking people actually do.
  • Factors that influence walking or biking decisions.
  • Strategies that can be used to encourage bicycling and walking.

2001 National Household Transportation Survey Data

Graphic shows a pie chart that evaluates mode splits over a 28-day period. 48.9% of those surveyed traveled via personal vehicle with multiple occupants. 37.6% rode in personal vehicles with one occupant. 1.5% of those surveyed traveled by mass transit. 1.7% traveled via school bus. 8.6% of the respondents walked, and the remaining 1.7% respondents chose other modes not already listed.

Regional Variations in Mode Choice

Table 2-1. Regional variations in modal shares for transit, walking, and bicycling.
(percentage of trips by mode)
Source: Highlights of the 2001 NHTS(5)

Mode of Transportation New England Middle Atlantic East North Central West North Central South Atlantic East South Central West South Central Mountain Pacific
Total Transit
1.8 5.8 1.3 0.6 1.6 0.4 0.7 0.8 2.2
   Bus and Light Rail 0.7 3.0 0.9 0.5 1.2 0.4 0.7 0.8 2.0
0.9 2.3 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
   Commuter Rail 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total Nonmotorized
11.0 16.7 9.5 7.3 8.5 6.4 7.1 9.5 11.7
   Walk 10.3 15.8 8.6 6.6 7.6 6.0 6.3 8.7 10.6
   Bicycle 0.7 0.8 0.9 0.7 0.9 0.4 0.8 0.8 1.1
Note: Values in table represent percent of total trips by mode indicated.
Values in table are the % of trips by mode indicated.
Source: Pucher, J., and J.L. Renne, "Socioeconomics of Urban Travel: Evidence from the 2001 NHTS," Transportation Quarterly, vol. 57, no. 3, summer 2003.

Factors Influencing Walking/Biking Decisions

  • Distance/time.
  • Attitude.
  • Trip barriers.
  • Destination barriers.


The picture shows an aerial view of a suburban cul-de-sac neighborhood. The development is surrounded by a large forest area. There are no pedestrian connections between the ends of the cul de sacs, and one would have a long way to walk or bike to the main street.

Trip Barriers

The picture is of an elderly woman standing at the curb, waiting to cross the street. She is standing at the end of a very long crosswalk with no crossing refuge in the middle.
The  picture is of a person riding a bicycle on the narrow paved shoulder of a busy country road.

The picture is of a crossing triangle at the end of a crosswalk. It has a call button for the crosswalk, but the triangle is overgrown with wild plants and brambles.

Destination Barriers

The picture on the left is an aerial view of a parking lot of a shopping center. The parking lot is half filled with cars. In order to get to the shopping area, someone must park and walk through the parking area.
Photo of the entry drive of a drive-thru coffee restaurant.

Safety Concerns

The picture shows a photo of a boy, standing on the yellow line in the middle of a road, attempting to make a mid block crossing in busy two-way traffic.

Strategies to Increase Bicycling and Walking

  • Build on existing support.
  • Press the transit connection.
  • Increase opportunities for recreational walking and bicycling.
  • Other strategies?

Lesson Summary

  • People are already biking and walking.
  • There are a variety of reasons why people choose whether or not to bike or walk.
  • There are many ways to encourage bicycling and walking in the community.
  • Bicycling and walking help to maintain independence and mobility for all people.



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