Active Transportation Beyond Urban Centers

Walking and Bicycling in Small Towns and Rural America
Source: Rails to Trails Conservancy

Some commentators and decision-makers have long assumed that biking and walking are strictly a "big city" phenomenon, and that rural America can't benefit substantially from bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure. Previous research has found that rural Americans walk and bicycle at 58 percent of the rate that urban Americans do. However, the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tell a different story.

For some categories of rural communities, active transportation — human-powered mobility, including biking and walking — is as common as in urban areas. The share of work trips made by bicycle in small towns is nearly double that of urban centers. Further, biking and walking count as significant means of transportation all across the countryside. In coming years, active transportation can play an even bigger role in making small town America more attractive for young families and business investment — improving economic vitality, public safety and overall health in smaller communities in every U.S. region.

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