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South Carolina improves rank in national report on biking and walking

Map of the Levels of Biking and Walking to Work in the United States

Charleston is one of new mid-sized cities included in 2014 Benchmarking Report

For  immediate release

Columbia – A new report from the Alliance for Biking & Walking examines the hard data behind the growing movement for more bicycling and walking, across the nation, and finds that South Carolina ranks 47 in fatality rates for bicyclists and pedestrians.

While this is an improvement from our rank of 49 in the previous report in 2012, our state still has a long way to go to provide safe access to biking and walking as options for recreation and transportation. As cities are discovering in South Carolina and nationally, access to safe routes plays an important role in economic development and investments in improving the health of South Carolina’s citizens.

Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2014 Benchmarking Report collects and analyzes data from all 50 states, 52 of the most populous cities, and – new to the 2014 edition – 17 small and midsized cities. The report traces the rise of walking and biking and explores its connection to health issues like obesity and diabetes.

We’re excited that Charleston is one of five cities (population 100-200K) that have been included in this report for the first time, along with our Southeast neighbor Chattanooga, Tennessee.

  • Biking to work – 2.5% of commuters in Charleston are biking to work, while the statewide average for biking to work in South Carolina is only 0.3%. This compares to Chattanooga with 0.3% biking to work and 0.1% for all of Tennessee.
  • Traffic fatalities – The percent of traffic fatalities that are bicyclists is 7.9 for Charleston and 1.6% for all of South Carolina. In comparison, bicycle fatalities in Chattanooga only represent 4.5% of all traffic fatalities, while 0.6% of all traffic fatalities in Tennessee are bicyclists.
  • Funding – South Carolina’s per capita funding of biking and walking improved from $0.95 in 2012 to $1.45 in this latest report, though the nationwide average is $3.10. Charleston is investing $25.72 per capita, which is the largest amount of the 5 medium-sized cities analyzed. Chattanooga is only budgeting $1.69.

The Palmetto Cycling Coalition is committed to encouraging safe access and choice in transportation and recreation for South Carolina’s citizens. Charleston and Greenville are taking the lead in our cities making investments in biking and walking and reaping the economic benefits. Increasing bike tourism to those areas is bringing needed revenue for municipalities and increased access to biking and walking is attracting major employers. With health care costs at an all-time high, companies are scrambling to get more employees exercising regularly. We need to do more to make biking and walking safe and accessible for daily travel.

Compared to most other states, South Carolina has a high percent of schools within our state participating in the Safe Routes to Schools program, at 25%, while the national average is 17.1%.

Nationwide, on average, 86.4% of all trips are taken by car, 10.4% on foot, 1% by bike, and 2.2% with transit. Compared to all 50 states, South Carolina ranked 39th in commuter biking and walking levels. We also ranked 48th in per capita spending on bicycle/pedestrian projects, and we ranked 29th in the percent of people getting the recommended amount of physical activity.

Nationwide, while 11.4% of all trips taken by walking and biking, they are over-represented in all roadway fatalities at 14.9%. However, only 2.1% of federal transportation spending goes to the infrastructure that could help solve this problem. In South Carolina, only 0.9% of federal and 2% of state transportation money is directed to bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Download the 2014 Benchmarking Report here.

Using hard data from public agencies and original research, the Benchmarking Report answers important questions such as:

  • In which states and cities do the most – and fewest – people bike and walk to work?
  • What is the single biggest predictor of how many people bike and walk to work in a city or state?
  • Where is the gender split of bicycle commuters most – and least – pronounced?
  • How do levels of biking and walking relate to public health indicators, like high blood pressure and diabetes?
  • What are states and cities doing to encourage more biking and walking?
  • Where are pedestrian and bicyclist fatality rates highest – and lowest?
  • Where are bike share systems and innovative bike facilities growing most rapidly?

Bicycling and Walking in the United States gathers and compares data from independent state and city studies not only of bicycling and walking levels, but also of a suite of related trends, including crash fatalities, weekly physical activity, transportation costs, air quality, and economic growth. The report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AARP, and the American Public Transportation Association. Print copies will be available from Island Press on May 15, 2014.

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