Active transportation" is human-powered transportation, such as walking, bicycling, or rolling; it is the acknowledgment that transportation choices are about more than reaching a destination but the impact of the journey on the individual, local community, and world.
- The transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, accounting for 29% of emissions in 2019. Light-duty vehicles, such as cars, account for 59% of those emissions.
- CO2 per kilometer: car (271g) vs bike (21g) vs walking (32g). Numbers include production and “fueling” the pedestrian or rider.
- In 2018, bikes made up 6% of the miles traveled in world cities; if by 2050 it has increased to 14%, there would be an overall 11% reduction in carbon emissions.
40% of all trips made in the United States are less than two miles; walking just three trips per week would achieve the recommended 150 minutes of weekly aerobic exercise.
Active transportation, as a part of everyday travel, is as effective as structured workouts for improving health.
Regular physical activity helps people to sleep better, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, colon and breast cancers, osteoporosis, and being overweight.
- Active transportation provides a dedicated time for self-care, where commuters can disconnect from their devices, listen to a podcast, or even meditate.
- People who are regularly physically active have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed and activity helps those who are depressed to recover.
- A ten minute brisk walk has been proven to increase energy, mental alertness, and positive mood; consider incorporating the Tyler Brown Pi Mile route or an exploration of the public art on campus into your journey.
- Car commuting is a predictor of social isolation, which causes unhappiness, vs walking, biking, and rolling, which foster social connectivity.
- On average, a driver in Georgia pays $11,578 per year to own and operate a car vs $350 for a bike.
- The health benefits of bike commuting result in fewer sick days and an average of $544 in annual savings in healthcare costs.
- Parking and Transportation Services’s SmartPark pass allows active commuters to save on an annual parking pass but still economically park on campus when needed.
Build a safer road environment by limiting distractions, focusing on your surroundings, slowing down, passing with care, and avoiding blocking crosswalks and bike lanes.
Integrating Active Transportation into Your Day
- Shorten in-person meetings or classes by 5-10 minutes to allow for travel. Inform people that this time will be provided
- Invite others attending the same meeting or class to walk or roll with you
- Wear comfortable shoes throughout the day
- Make active travel productive; schedule a walking meeting, brainstorming session, or make phone calls
- Leave early and walk or roll at a slower pace to not get as hot
- Carry a healthy snack, sunscreen, and refillable water bottle
Starting an Active Commute
- Change your commute one day per week and add days as you discover what works with your schedule.
- Combine public transportation with walking and riding. MARTA’s on-time performance rate is 97%, and all regional bus and MARTA stations are within a 20 minute walk or 7-8 minute ride to campus. All buses and trains are equipped with bike racks.
- Develop a back-up plan; consider ride-hail, MARTA, or learn whether you qualify for Georgia Commute Options Guaranteed Ride Home reward, which offers four free rides per year to qualifying commuters.
I want to be a good example for my kids, stay healthy, and live more sustainably. Plus, cycling is the feeling of absolute freedom. There's nothing like it.
-Leigh Hopkins, AICP
Enterprise Innovation Institute