Making the Case: National Bike Summit Recap

Posted on March 16, 2017 · Posted in General

Although we are on the cusp of hosting the Inaugural Nebraska Bike/Walk Summit (for which you can still register, by the way! www.nebikewalksummit.org), we thought it would be a good idea to step back and provide a quick review of interesting information gleaned at last week’s National Bike Summit.

There was much to be learned from networking with our fellow participants and from the various breakout sessions, but it was the data that we had in our hands when we visited our members of congress that most impressive.  The mood in Washington DC was unlike we’d ever experienced and political gridlock seems to be in full force, but we can take heart in these numbers from a survey done in September 2016 by the Princeton Survey Research Associates of 1000 adults.

Participants were informed that less than 2% of transportation funding goes to sidewalks, bike lanes and paths, 17% is used for public transit and 80% is used for roads and highways.  They were then asked if the percentage that goes to biking and walking should increase, decrease or stay the same.  Here’s what they found when comparing results between 2012 data and 2016 data:

The number of people supporting an INCREASE in funding went from 47% to 58%.

(Apologies for the blurry images, but you get the picture!)

It gets better.  The support for increased funding was up, across the board, regardless of:

Political Affiliation

Democrat on left, Republican on right. (2012 on L, 2016 on R) blue = increase, red = maintain, green = decrease

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community Type

Suburban on left, Rural on right. (2012 on L, 2016 on R) blue = increase, red = maintain, green = decrease

Census Region

Top row = West on left and Midwest on right Bottom row = South on left and Northeast on right blue = increase, red= maintain, green = decrease

Age

Top row: 65+ on left, 50-64 on right. Bottom row: 30-49 on left, 18-29 on right. blue = increase, red = maintain, green = decrease

This was a powerful message to deliver in the age of political polarization.  The document we left with our MOC’s that had the biggest impact, however, was this one about jobs:

 

When we handed this to Senator Fischer’s legislative aide, we watched his eyes linger at the image and then zoom to the bottom to check the source of the data: AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials).  His eyebrows went up and then he looked up at us, surprised.  It’s true: bike/ped infrastructure creates more jobs than any other type.  Why is this? We suspect it has to do with the fact that many large projects (pavement widening, etc.) have giant machines that do much of the work.  Projects involving pouring concrete for sidewalks and trails, installing bike lanes, etc., require a more hands on process.  Either way, it is a great piece of data to keep in your back pocket for that next Thanksgiving dinner debate.  (More info on the League’s website.)

On the agenda for Friday at the Nebraska Bike/Walk Summit, we’ll be hosting a session on local advocacy which will focus heavily on how we frame our messages.  As advocates, we need to know the data and be able to discuss it in a persuasive way; just stating the facts isn’t enough.  We hope you’ll join us so that we can continue to strengthen our voices for better biking (and walking) in Nebraska.