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Monday, January 23, 2012

Report: Georgia is 45th in nation for biking, pedestrian safety

Surprise o' the morning: Georgia is not the most wonderful place to ride a bike or walk.

According to the new report released by the Alliance for Biking & Walking, the Peach State ranks 45th among states for overall cyclist and pedestrian safety. Researchers say the poor showing could be thanks to the lack of adequate funding for bike and pedestrian projects. Researchers say Georgia spends just 1.75 percent of its federal transportation cash on biking and walking — about $2.50 per person.

“Since 1990, Georgia has witnessed a 111% increase in the popularity of cycling, for both recreation and transportation,” Georgia Bikes Executive Director Brent Buice said in a statement. "But, as a state, we fail to capitalize on available funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, which create jobs, improve property values, and promote physical activity."

The report, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with assistance from the AARP and Planet Bike, is a 243-page beast that's sure to delight most data-obsessed wonks. Statistics are available for states and major cities, which allows you to compare Atlanta to, say, New York, Minneapolis, or Charlotte.

City cycling and pedestrian advocates should be tickled knowing that Atlanta ranks in the teens for many categories, including cycling and pedestrian levels. The number of Atlantans who pedaled to work increased by 2,245 people, or 461 percent, between 1990 and 2009 — which researchers considered very high.

More and more attention — and funding — is being placed on cycling walking by cities and states across the country. According to the report, the largest 51 U.S. cities showed a 29 percent increase in bicycle facilities since last year's report. And cities plan to, so long as funding is available, build nearly 21,000 miles of bicycle facilities and more than 7,000 miles of pedestrian facilities over the coming years.

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