Encouraging Bicycling and Walking: The State Legislative Role

NCSL Transportation Program

NCSL Contacts

Two bicyclists

Although bicycling and walking have always been transportation options, the development of automobile-oriented communities led to a steady decline in these activities.  Record gas prices, a gridlocked transportation system, health maladies related to physical inactivity, and environmental concerns have led many to reexamine their transportation options, including bicycling and walking.

The 2008 NCSL report Encouraging Bicycling and Walking: The State Legislative Role provides information about and examples of how state legislatures can proactively support bicycling and walking, especially as transportation options. 

The report first provides an overview of recent trends in bicycling and walking and the related transportation, economic, public and environmental health benefits. A snapshot of the current state of bicycling and walking in the United States follows. 

Subsequent chapters examine state legislative activity in three key areas: funding, planning and safety. 

  • The funding section reviews state efforts to provide money for bicycling and walking infrastructure and programs, including some funding stream mechanisms.
  • The planning section examines how states have integrated bicycling and walking into transportation plans and projects and discusses the importance of these options within state decision making. A visual tour of a bicycling- and walking-friendly community follows, with samples of infrastructure design elements that can increase bicycle and pedestrian safety and use.
  • The final chapter discusses how states are increasing safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, including creating new laws; increasing penalties; targeting enforcement; and increasing responsibility for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Download full report (86 pages)

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