I saw this article posted via Bike Portland, and thought it was quite interesting. A few main points I liked from the article:
A top new argument [for investment in walking and biking]: obesity. A stunning 34 percent of adult Americans are currently obese, another 32 percent clearly overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excessive weight now causes more deaths than smoking.
It’s time, argues Keith Laughlin, president of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (railstotrails.org), for a mega-federal step forward–toward "active transportation." What would that mean? A quick answer: Walking and biking accepted as legitimate, viable and healthy transportation modes, worthy of priority, not last-and-maybe federal support.
Cities that have already invested seriously in walking and biking access are demonstrating solid results, Laughlin claims. The lead example: Portland, Ore., where $57 million has been spent on in a 300-mile bikeway/pedestrian network since 1991. Portland bicycling has lately increased up to 15-20 percent a year, and another $100 million trail investment is planned. By 2040, Rails to Trails calculates, Portland’s net benefit from better health and reduced fuel savings will be $1.2 billion, representing an eye-catching 8-to-1 return-on-investment ratio.
It turns out that major walking and biking efforts aren’t some joke, or just an interesting idea. They’re imperative.