Are bicycle commuting and walking civil rights issues? It’s just four short paragraphs in the 48-page Active Transportation for America report issued by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Bikes Belong, but this argument is unmistakable:
Questions associated with mobility and transportation choice are not limited to issues of economic efficiency. We must also acknowledge that for many Americans driving is not an option.
More than 60 million Americans are not allowed to drive because they are too young. Another 30 million adults are not licensed to drive for a variety of reasons including economics, age, disability and choice. Eight million Americans above the age of 60 do not have a driver’s license, and many more licensed drivers choose not to drive.
A surprising number of families, especially in urban areas, do not have access to an automobile. In Washington, D.C., 37 percent of households do not own an automobile.
Access to mobility is crucial to thrive economically, socially and physically. The transportation needs of these large segments of the American population need to be met with a mix of bicycling, walking and public transportation options. Transportation in America must be accessible for all Americans. Bicycling and walking are crucial in providing universal mobility.
I think this argument is as powerful as many of the typical arguments involving health and economic benefits. I think it’s as important an argument for bicycling and walking as the environmental argument. All it gets is the four paragraphs I’ve reproduced here.
Perhaps the report’s writers think the civil rights issues is assumed in other areas of the report. I believe, however, the civil rights argument could be one the main arguments. Making this argument could open up a whole new stream of funding.