More Americans going by foot and pedal: report

A couple holds hands as they cross the street in the early morning in New York in this October 21, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Walking or riding a bicycle is becoming a more common choice for transportation in the United States, a country notorious for its love affair with the car, according to government data released on Wednesday that also showed growing pedestrian and cyclist safety.

In 2009, the number of trips people took by foot hit 42.5 billion, more than double the 18 billion trips taken in 1990, according to the National Biking and Walking Study.

In the same vein, the number of bike trips nearly tripled to 4 billion from 1.7 billion in 1990, the first year data is available.

That means 11.9 percent of all trips are now taken by bike or foot.

From 1994 to 2008, the number of pedestrians killed dropped 22.3 percent and the number of bicyclists killed decreased by 12 percent, according to the report.

“Since the number of trips taken on foot or on bike has more than doubled in the same period, those declines are a good sign of increased safety,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in his blog, “The Fastlane.”

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Andrew Hay