Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Myths busted: data show transit safer than driving

Banned in Milwaukee
In more ways than one, this Twin Cities light rail line is good for you

Though light rail and a streetcar revival have been barred, blocked, and banned in Milwaukee for nearly 20 years by GOP conservatives - - and their newest mantra is that transit is a "social service" - -  there's fresh data about transit's health-and-safety benefits to go along with economic and environmental/social advantages, too.

Read this fascinating study reported by the always-edifying
Looking at traffic fatalities per mile traveled in the U.S., analyst Todd Litman found that riding commuter or intercity rail is about 20 times safer than driving; riding metro or light rail is about 30 times safer; and riding the bus is about 60 times safer. Factoring in pedestrians and cyclists killed in crashes with vehicles, the effect is smaller but still dramatic: the fatality rate associated with car travel is more than twice as high as the rate associate with transit. Litman’s study was recently published in the Journal of Public Transportation [PDF].
Litman notes that most transit travel involves some walking or biking, which carry a relatively high risk of traffic injury. But those risks are mostly offset by the health benefits of physical activity. Living in a place with good transit has safety benefits as well: Litman cites research showing that cities with higher transit ridership rates tend to have lower per-capita traffic fatality rates.
Using FBI data, Litman also busts the myth that transit is linked to high levels of crime...Litman shows that on balance, people riding transit are less likely to be victimized than car drivers, passengers, and owners.
H/T Angie Schmitt.

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