League of American Bicyclists
United States Senate
Committee on Environment and Public Works
Mobility, Congestion and Intermodalism
March 19, 2002
Mr. Chairman, Senator Smith and Members of the Committee, thank you for holding these hearings regarding the reauthorization of the Transportation and Equity Act for the 21st Century.† On behalf of the League of American Bicyclists, I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the benefits associated with the use of the bicycle as it relates to mobility, congestion and intermodalism.
The League of American Bicyclists was founded in 1880 as the League of American Wheelmen when cyclists from across the United States joined together to advocate for paved roads.† Their efforts ultimately led to our national highway system.†
Today, the League promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America.† We represent the interests of the nation's 42.5 million cyclists. With a current membership of 300,000 affiliated cyclists, including 40,000 individuals and 600 affiliated organizations, the League works to bring better bicycling to communities across the country.
We recognize that bicyclists are not going to completely solve our nationís congestion problems.† However, they are certainly a key piece of the puzzle and can not be overlooked.† It is important that Congress recognize the important role bicycling plays in transportation during this reauthorization process.†
Aside from creating gridlock, traffic congestion wastes time and energy and creates pollution and driver frustration.† Those who use their bike as a mode of transportation will be the first to tell you that their bicycling commuting experience is far more pleasant than sitting in a car.† The typical bike commute takes less time than driving, particularly in urban areas such as Washington, DC; is less expensive; certainly uses less gasoline and emits no air pollution.† Generally, the bicyclist arrives at work less stressed and invigorated for a productive day.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 40 percent of all automobile trips are less than 2 miles.† Turning even a small percentage of those trips into bicycle trips would ease congestion tremendously.† Many of those trips are made by parents dropping their children off at school, creating dangerous congestion near and around schools.† If we help make those school routes become safer for children to travel by bike or by foot, think of the congestion that would be eliminated, not to mention improving their health by promoting physical activity.† Mr. Chairman, the physical benefits of bicycling for all Americans is an important topic that deserves its own hearing, as does the environmental benefits.
Not only will getting more people to take trips on their bicycle decrease the amount of vehicles on our roads, it will also substantially decrease air pollution.† At the present, 80% of carbon monoxide and 50% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the United States are a result of our transportation system.† 60% of automobile emissions pollution occurs at the very beginning of vehicle operation when the engine is cold and the pollution control devices have not begun to work effectively.† Therefore, the shorter automobile trips are producing more pollution on a per-mile basis than shorter trips.
With regard to intermodalism, the bicycle plays a vital role.† All over this country, in addition to bicycling all the way to work, people are biking to their local bus stop or train station and then taking mass transit.† In some cases, they keep a bicycle at the other end to finish their commute.
The Federal Transit Administration estimates that at least one-in-five transit buses nationwide are equipped with bike racks.† Buses in Seattle carry over 60,000 bicyclists a month, or 60,000 single-occupancy vehicle drivers.
More and more of our nationís subways and trains are encouraging bicycle access, making it easier for bicyclists to use mass transit and reducing the number of cars on our roads and highways, especially during rush hours.
Mr. Chairman, it is critical that Congress continue to recognize the contributions that bicyclists make with regard to mobility, congestion and intermodalism.† Even a small percentage increase in bicycling will go a long way in making a positive change and improve mobility for all.†
Thank you once again for the opportunity to testify before this distinguished committee.† We look forward to working with you throughout this important reauthorization process, as we collectively strive to improve the transportation system in the United States for all Americans.†