A bike plan from 1980

Dawn in Seattle dug up this gem from 1980: a technical report for the US Department of Transportation covering Bicycle Transportation for Energy Conservation [135 page PDF]

Some highlights:

  • The abstract says: “The study determined that 470,000 people commuted by bicycle in 1975….” That was 0.6% of the working population in 1975. In 2011, the US Census estimates 0.6% of the workforce commuted by bike. That’s zero percent change in nearly 40 years!
  • A reasonable goal for 1985 would be for an additional 1.5 million to 2.5 million bicycle commuters, with a 50-100% increase in other bicycle travel. If this goal is reached, it will result in a total energy savings of 16.4 to 23.5 million barrels per year by 1985.” Americans today burn about 20 million barrels of petroleum (of which 8 million barrels are gasoline) per day.
  • The study was prepared by Katie Moran for a group called the “Mountain Bicyclists’ Association” of Denver, Colorado. The address is 1290 Williams Street, which is right across from Cheeseman Park. Does anybody know anything about this group. Is Ms Moran still active in cycling advocacy?
  • This paper very much takes a vehicular cycling approach, criticizing facilities — especially side paths and other separated facilities — as appropriate only for newbies.
  • Check out this text from the National Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1979:

    The Congress recognizes that bicycles are the most efficient means of transportation, represent a viable commuting alternative to many people, offer mobility at speeds as fast as that of cars in urban areas, provide health benefits through daily exercise, reduce noise and air pollution, are relatively inexpensive, and deserve consideration in a comprehensive national energy plan.

    Not more than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall complete a study of the energy conservation of potential bicycle transportation, determine institutional, legal, physical, and personal obstacles to increased bicycle use, establish a target for bicycle use in commuting, and develop a comprehensive program to meet these goals. In developing the program, consideration should be given to educational programs, federal demonstrations, planning grants, and construction grants. The Secretary of Transportation shall submit a report to the President and to Congress containing the results of such a study.”

This paper is the background for that report prepared for the Department of Transportation.


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