Study with nationwide key data
U.S. Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Report
Initial Situation and Project Idea
The Alliance's U.S. Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Project began in 2003 when Alliance leaders recognized the need for advocates to measure progress of bicycling and walking and realized the lack of available data. Our staff and board jumped on the project, recognizing the benefit of showing the impact advocacy has on increasing bicycling and walking. Without hard data to measure results, Alliance organizations were missing a key argument for their efforts.
In 2004 the Alliance completed a pilot benchmarking report collecting data only on bicycling from just 15 U.S. cities and 15 states to test methods for the project. This first report helped pave a smoother path for the collection of more comprehensive data from all 50 states and 51 cities in 2006 and 2007. The first full report on the status of bicycling and walking in the United States was published in August 2007 (under the organization's former name: Thunderhead Alliance). The second full report was published in January 2010 and built upon our previous efforts.
Through the ongoing Benchmarking Project, the Alliance for Biking & Walking will publish an updated version of this report every two years and will continuously refine methods and consider new data sets as available. As the project progresses, it will offer more precise benchmarks and recommendations for advocates and government officials so that they have the data they need to improve bicycling and walking in the U.S. and eventually all of North America.
The primary objectives of the Alliance's U.S. Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Project include:
Promote Data Collection and Availability
The Benchmarking Project aims to collect data from secondary sources (existing databases) and to conduct surveys of city and state officials to obtain data not collected by another national source. A number of government and national data sources are collected and illustrated in this report. Through state, city, and organization biannual surveys, this project makes new data available in a standardized format that otherwise does not exist.
Measure Progress and Evaluate Results
The Benchmarking Project aims to provide data to government officials and advocates in an accessible format that helps them measure their progress toward increasing bicycling and walking and evaluate the results of their efforts. Because the Benchmarking Project is ongoing, cities and states can measure their progress over time and will see the impacts of their efforts. By providing a consistent and objective tool for evaluation, organizations, states, and cities can determine what works and what doesn't. Successful models can be emulated and failed models reevaluated.
Support Efforts to Increase Bicycling and Walking
This project will ultimately support the efforts of government
officials and bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations to
increase bicycling and walking in their communities. By providing a
means for cities and states to compare themselves to one another,
this report will highlight successes, encourage communities making
progress, and make communities aware of areas where more effort is
By highlighting the top states and cities, other states and cities will gain inspiration and best practice models. The Benchmarking Report is intended to help states and communities set goals, plan strategies, and evaluate results.
The Benchmarking Report focuses on 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities. Most bicycling and walking is in urban areas, and because of short trip distances, the most potential for increasing bicycling and walking is in cities. Whenever possible, the Alliance collected data for this report directly from uniform government data sources. Researchers collected data that were not readily accessible from national sources through three surveys for cities, states, and advocacy organizations.
For the project, the Alliance's team reaches out to 50 states and 51 cities, utilizing the staff of cities, state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and advocacy organizations to provide data for organization, city, and state surveys. The surveys complement existing government data sources to create a comprehensive reserve of data that evaluates multiple factors that affect bicycling and walking in cities and states.
Over 4,000 copies of the 2010 Benchmarking Report has been
distributed in hard copy or electronic form. The 2010 report had
been citied in over 300 media articles and interviews and in
numerous reports and publications. The 2012 Benchmarking Report
effort is curretly underway with publication expected in January