Poll: Support for Active Transportation Funding Is High Across Party Lines

Seventy-four percent of Americans want to maintain or increase federal funding for biking and walking. Image: ##http://www.railstotrails.org/resourcehandler.ashx?id=5088##RTC##
Seventy-four percent of Americans want to maintain or increase federal funding for biking and walking. Image: ##http://www.railstotrails.org/resourcehandler.ashx?id=5088##RTC##

When will Congress debate a new transportation bill? Your guess is as good as mine (May 31 expiration date of the current extension notwithstanding). But here’s some advice for whenever they do: Increase federal funding for biking and walking. Your voters demand it.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy wanted to know whether Americans support this kind of funding, which is subjected to regular attacks from the right. So RTC contracted two leading polling firms — one Democratic, on Republican — to ask 1,000 people what they thought.

Turns out strong majorities support increasing or maintaining current levels of federal investment in walking and biking paths, regardless of party affiliation. Four times as many voters favor boosting or maintaining funding as cutting it:

Republicans support biking and walking too, by a margin better than 2:1. Image: RTC
Republicans support biking and walking too, by a margin better than 2:1. Image: RTC

Sure, there are some partisan differences. While Republicans’ distaste for politicians who want to eliminate bike-ped funding only slightly outweighs their support (36 percent to 29 percent), 54 percent of Democrats say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate with that position, versus just 16 percent who say they’d be more likely to. But the upshot is this: Everyone agrees that more support for biking and walking is a good thing.

The clearest indication of how Americans feel about support for healthy modes of transportation comes with this question:

desire vs reality

Rather than eliminate federal support for clean, healthy transportation options — as incoming Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe would like to do — Congressional Republicans would do well to increase it. That’s clearly what their constituents are calling for.

This isn’t the first survey to find such broad support for non-motorized transportation. A few years ago, 74 percent of Republicans said they supported adding bike lanes to roads as a measure to counteract climate change. In 2012, a Princeton survey found that 83 percent of Americans wanted to maintain or increase federal funding for sidewalks and bike lanes. In October, 54 percent of respondents in an ABC News/Washington Post poll said they would rather see government “providing more public transportation options,” compared to 41 percent who preferred “expanding and building roads.”

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