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Ted Heyd

Is it just the way things are?

In the opening days of a new year, it’s fun to take stock. What’s working? What’s not? Where are you thriving? Where are you coming up short of where you want to be? Where are the exciting opportunities for you, your family, your organization? Well, 2016 is another year filled with opportunities!

Short, but often driven

bike2
photo: David M. Budd

One of the opportunities (for me, anyway, and hopefully for you too) is to continue supporting shifts in Front Range mode share. Did you know that a lot of the trips made along the Front Range every day are very short? Many are less than a mile.

A majority of those trips are taken by car. Check out the numbers below from the Front Range Travel Counts study (2011). Although four years old, they’re still relevant.

  • Total daily regional trips: 14,261,383
  • Total daily regional trips less than one mile: 3,690,852
  • Total daily regional trips less than one mile that are driven: 2,936,463 (80 percent)
  • Percent of regional trips made by biking and walking6.7 percent

Peeling the onion

That 6.7 percent figure reeks of opportunity. (Did you catch the onion reference?)

So, what’s going on here? Why are so many short trips taken by car? It’s a loaded question. Are travel needs, preferences and community (built) environments such that we’re stuck and will indefinitely hover in the single digits for bike/ped mode share…is it just the way things are?

I’d offer that, no, the best is yet to come. Through a concerted three-pronged approach of projects (funding), policies (and laws) and programs (education and encouragement), the Front Range can make a big jump. If you want to read further, there are some interesting points in this report on the factors that have turned so many Danes into cyclists.

Why does bike/ped mode share matter?

bike1
photo: David M. Budd

Again, it’s a loaded question, but one worth asking. If you’re reading this, you may already have some thoughts on the subject. Here’s some food for thought, though not an exhaustive list. Replacing short driving trips on the Front Range with walking and biking trips could:

  • Help reduce obesity and related chronic disease (It costs approximately $1.6 billion to treat these in Colorado today.)
  • Cut down on harmful emissions caused when those 2.9 million short trips are driven each day
  • Reduce car-related wear and tear on roads and bridges

If you’re thinking of other reasons, please share them in the comments.

2030 and beyond

As we step into a new year and look well out into the distance, I’d say that 6.7 percent doesn’t have to be the way things are. Sure, some of those short trips will forever be taken by car, but there is lot we can do as individuals, neighborhoods, cities, towns and regional and state agencies to bump that number up.

Do you think we can get to 13 percent (a doubling) of bicycle/pedestrian mode share by 2030? I do. Let’s get after it friends!

Ted Heyd

About the Author: Ted Heyd

Ted manages our regional policy efforts focused on building out a more multi-modal transportation network. Ted thoroughly enjoys and spends much of his time collaborating with multiple advocacy partners along the Front Range. In his free time, he loves to mountain bike, hike and camp with family and friends.

COMMENTS (2)

Michael L. - Reply

People drive because they’ve always driven. Personally I’m going to try and get the family to ride or walk to the pool (about a mile away) in the summer. But there isn’t a lot of secure bike parking there…

Paul - Reply

Speaking of parking, if car parking was more expensive and less available, maybe more people would choose alternative transportation. Personally, I believe that day is coming anyway because of plain old population growth, but not before we hear a lot of griping and whining from drivers.

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