Report Highlights Economic Benefit of Promoting Active Transportation

Author Details

David Dexter

Communications Coordinator

Organization: California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Go to California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Recently, we’ve discussed the importance of complete streets and how safe transportation options can improve population health. As it turns out, promoting active transportation also makes great financial sense for our communities as well.

A fascinating research project by the UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC), presented at the recent Active Living Research conference, found that safe transportation investments actually have the potential for positive economic impact. Researchers surveyed commuters at nine rail stations in the Bay Area about how they got to the station: whether by foot, bike, car, or bus.

As this helpful infographic shows, those who commuted primarily by car were much less likely to stop along the way for goods and services than are those who walk or take public transportation. This benefits local businesses near transit shops because increased foot traffic generally results in increased sales. Further, those who commuted by foot or bike spent far less on transportation than those who drove.

After analyzing the results, the researchers settled on this takeaway:

“Given the promising movement toward active transportation and use of transit, implications for policy and practice include giving strong consideration, support, and funding to programs that feature mode shift and safety, rather than automobile-dominant commute and travel patterns.”

Low-income areas and communities of color could stand to particularly benefit as a result of active transportation investment. As we discussed in our Landscape of Opportunity report, residents in low-income areas and communities of color are often less likely to own a car, so they may rely more on public transportation to go to work, the doctor, or the grocery store. 

This is another example of the exciting projects and research being done to improve transportation in our communities. Now that we know there is the potential for economic boost to go with the health and safety benefits, active transportation investments make even more sense.

Also, as a reminder, there’s still time to register for TransForm’s Transportation Choices Summit 2015 on April 27th in Sacramento. Early-bird rates end March 9th!