In 2005, as part of the congressional transportation bill, four areas were selected for bike and walking improvements as a pilot program to monitor the results. The Department of Transportation has released the findings and it shows exactly what I have said from the get go.
First, here's the numbers.
•Over four years, people in these four communities alone walked or bicycled an estimated 32 million miles they would have otherwise driven;
•The communities saw an average increase of 49 percent in the number of bicyclists and a 22 percent increase in the number of pedestrians;
•The percentage of trips taken by bike instead of car increased 36 percent, and those taken on foot increased 14 percent;
•While each pilot community experienced increases in bicycling and walking, fatal bicycle and pedestrian crashes held steady or decreased in all of the communities; and
•The pilot communities saved an estimated 7,701 tons of CO2 in 2010.
So in essence, what I have said was that people will do what is convenient. We don't love our cars, we use them so much because it is convenient, usually at the expense of every other mode. Biking and walking increased in the communities involved in the pilot because it was convenient. Money was invested specifically to improve those modes and, unshockingly to me, they increased the amount of users traveling on those modes.
In essence, if you make anything convenient, people will use it. The opposite is also true. That maxim, even if somewhat simplistic, explains exactly why our cities are what they are.