Kate is a senior nursing student at University of Missouri and will be graduating in May. She hopes to stay here in Columbia, and go back to school to get her Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner degree to someday work in dermatology.
Over the past few weeks, I have stepped out of my comfort zone of scrubs and a hospital room and into the streets of Columbia on bike, on bus and on foot. I learned a lot about the public transportation system in place by actually experiencing it. My eyes were opened to a lot of great things in place here in Columbia for biking, walking and using public transit, as well as some areas that need improvement. To showcase the benefits of active transportation, I have been working on an infographic, which is a unique way to display information primarily using pictures. I wanted to share a few of the interesting facts I learned by doing this project, that I wasn’t able to fit onto the infographic.
The benefit to people biking, walking and using public transit may seem obvious, but the actual numbers are interesting. For example, a person who uses public transportation walks an average of 8.3 minutes more per day and takes 30% more steps, reaching the goal of 10,000 steps per day faster. I like to wear a pedometer in the spring time to see just how many steps I take per day, because it is a great reminder throughout the day to be more active. Further, if American adults each drove one mile less per day, it would reduce the adult obesity rate by 2.16 percent over six years. Every little bit will help especially because if the current trend continues, nearly half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2020.
In my opinion, the most amazing part of the infographic was the benefits to the economy. Again, the average person may realize that a strong public transportation system draws residents to the community, but may not understand the actual economic impact these systems can have. For instance, every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates 36,000 jobs. One billion may seem like a lot of cash, but when you think of it in terms of savings, it is minute. Specifically, in New York, they save $19 billion per year because they rely less on cars than residents of other major U.S. cities. Finally, for the skeptics that argue businesses will decrease revenue when we focus more on bicycle and pedestrian paths, a study of retail spending found that people who arrived by bike, on foot or by transit spent more per month than those customers arriving by car at corner stores, restaurants and bars; only at grocery stores did people arriving by car spend more per month.