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National Geographic Reveals the World’s Transit Superstars

12:28 PM EDT on May 15, 2009

moscow.jpgGuess where these people are. Photo by danncer via Flickr.

National Geographic released the results of their annual Greendex consumer survey yesterday, ranking the environmental friendliness of housing, transportation and eating habits in nations around the world.

Sadly, only one nation can boast that a majority of its population rides transit at least once a day... the surprising answer comes after the jump.

Russia ranked the highest on the Greendex scale, with 52 percent of respondents reporting daily or near-daily use of transit. Hot on its heels was China, where 43 percent reported very frequent transit rides. More than four out of five Chinese surveyed ride transit at least once a month, according to the Greendex.

On the flip side, only one nation reported a majority of travelers who never use transit: the U.S. An eye-popping 61 percent of Americans steer totally clear of rail and buses, with just 11 percent riding at least once a month.

Americans also ranked the lowest on the Greendex's walking-or-biking scale, which measured how many people reported frequent use of either mode of transport. Just 26 percent of U.S. travelers use their bikes or their feet most often, a far cry from Mexico's 48 percent and Britain's 52 percent walking-or-biking scores.

Yet the Greendex isn't all bad news for the U.S. Asked for the reasons why they forgo transit, the number one reply from Americans was that the option simply isn't available -- suggesting that a sustained investment in expanding transit options would have a significant effect on traveling habits.

And as bad as Americans' driving habits are, we managed to avoid placing last in the driving-alone index. France is the biggest offender, with 80 percent of its travelers burning fossil fuels solo at least once a week.

The U.S. also narrowly avoided last place in the bike index, where 52 percent of Britons reported owning at least one bicycle, compared with 55 percent of Americans. (Swedes were the most common bike owners, with an impressive one-third reporting that they have three or more bikes.)

The entire survey is worth a look. I wonder how well members of Congress would fare...

(h/t Grist)

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