Oberstar pushes walking and biking campaigns

Bike racks
Bikes lined up outside of Coffman Union on the University of Minnesota East Bank campus.
MPR Photo/Ross Holtan

A new report issued Monday quantifies the potential benefits of getting more Americans to travel by foot or bicycle.

Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., received the report from the Rails to Trails Conservancy at the National Press Club.

Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, said biking and walking campaigns aimed at children can be especially effective at instilling life-long habits.

He cited a case of schoolchildren pushing for a new bike trail in east central Minnesota.

"There are two towns, Cambridge and Isanti, four miles apart. But all the schoolchildren in Isanti go to school in Cambridge. And they had the idea of a bike path from Isanti to Cambridge. They talked to their parents, a high priority project was designated and it's going to open. And the kids are biking and walking to school," Oberstar said.

Oberstar said additional biking and walking would help reduce obesity rates, as well as oil consumption and carbon emissions.

The report estimates that even modest increases in biking and walking could cut driving miles by 70 billion nationwide.

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