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Monday, June 11, 2012

Whose Roads? Evaluating Bicyclists’ and Pedestrians’ Right to Use Public Roadways

Roger Millar of SmartGrowth America shared an exceptional study on bicyclists and pedestrians right to use public roadways from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. In Tennessee Bike Walk TN is advocating for the rights of those who choose to use alternative modes of transportation.
"Many people believe that non-motorized modes (walking, cycling, and their variants) have less right to use public roads than motorists, based on assumptions that motor vehicle travel is more important than non-motorized travel and motor vehicle user fees finance roads. This report investigates these assumptions. It finds that non-motorized modes have clear legal rights to use public roads, that non-motorized travel is important for an efficient transport system and provides significant benefits to users and society, that less than half of roadway expenses are financed by motor vehicle user fees, and pedestrians and cyclists pay more than their share of roadway costs. Most funding for local roads (the roads pedestrians and cyclists use most) is from general taxes, which people pay regardless of how they travel. Since bicycling and walking impose lower roadway costs than motorized modes, people who rely on non-motorized modes tend to overpay their fair share of roadway costs and subsidize motorists.

Although pedestrians and cyclists do not pay special road user fees, they do help pay for the sidewalks, paths and roads. Only about half of roadway expenses are financed by user fees. Half of all roadway costs are financed by general taxes, which people pay regardless of how they travel, and this portion is increasing. Although a major portion of highway expenses are financed by motor vehicle user fees, they fund only a small portion of local roads and traffic services. Because they are small and light, pedestrians and cyclists impose much smaller roadway costs per mile of travel than motor vehicles. Motor vehicle use also imposes a variety of external costs, including parking subsidies, congestion, uncompensated crash and environmental damages. Because they tend to travel fewer miles per year, they impose far lower total costs per capita than motorists. As a result, people who drive less than average tend to overpay their fair share of transport costs, while those who drive more than average underpay. As a result, pedestrians and bicyclists tend to subsidize motorists." Link to the entire study can be found HERE. © 1995-2012 Todd Alexander Litman All Rights Reserved

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