This is part two of a three-part series on Mobility Lab’s new infographics and report, the 2015 Arlington Resident Travel Survey. Part 1, with all the major findings, is here.
In Arlington, Va. – like in the active-transportation mecca of Portland, Ore. – residents are happiest when they’re biking, walking, or even running to work. Further, these commuters are likely to be healthier than their car-dependent counterparts.
Many nuggets such as these can be found in the 2015 Arlington Resident Travel Survey, which is accompanied by new infographics to help clearly communicate some of the key findings from our in-depth investigation into this data.
In Mobility Lab’s surveying of people who live in Arlington, on behalf of Arlington County Commuter Services, just under half of responding residents work in the bordering District of Columbia (45 percent), with a third working within Arlington’s borders (31 percent). The remaining residents commute to Fairfax (15 percent), other Virginian locales (5 percent), or Maryland (4 percent).
Although 44 percent of Arlington commuters drive to work alone and 42 percent take bus or rail transit, active commuters (6 percent of Arlington residents commute by bicycle and 5 percent by walking) report the greatest satisfaction with their commutes.
Much of this is related to predictability. Active commutes are more predictable, based on the concept of “cushion time” – additional minutes allotted to commutes to account for unexpected delays.
The survey found that 37 percent of the time for car commuters is cushion time, whereas cushion time only amounts to 23 percent for people on bikes and 22 percent for pedestrians. This indicates that active commutes are more predictable than “passive” commutes.
In addition to being predictable, it appears that once people opt to try active commutes, they enthusiastically take to their new lifestyles. Arlington bikers and walkers reported high satisfaction with their commutes.
This is similar to what’s been discovered in Portland. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Transport and Health, Portland commuters who bike or walk to work have high “commute well-being,” a multi-item measure of how people feel about their commute to work. The study also noted that biking to work has profound mental – as well as the more-obvious physical – health benefits.
All this is not to say that the active-transportation revolution is exclusive to Arlington or Portland. In cities across the U.S., more bikes are hitting the pavement for commuting. The Brookings Institution reports that, according to 2016 Census data, there has been a significant shift toward bike commuting in 22 of 50 major cities nationwide.
This cultural shift from car-dependent commutes to more active commutes may start to result in some trends toward overall better health. A recent study of commuters in the United Kingdom found that bicyclists were 41 percent less likely to die from major health events – such as heart disease or cancer – than those who took passive modes of transportation.
Compared to passive commuters, those who walk to work had a 27 percent lower risk of having a heart attack or other heart-related issues and a 36 percent lower risk of dying from a heart-related problem.
Photo by Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab.