Have you ever been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a beautiful day and noticed someone walking or riding their bike enjoying the fresh air and thought “I wish I could do that”?  I have.  And whether you’d like to commute to work, ride your bike with your kids to school or walk to the park, Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation (GCAT) wants to make your outing easier.

GCAT is a coalition of local organizations and individuals. Our mission is to advocate for complete streets practices that promote cycling, walking, disability access and transit through education and advocacy for a safe and convenient network of multi-use trails and streets. Active travel strengthens connections in neighborhoods and enhances our community’s quality of life, health, environment and economy. We are already working with coalition partners to provide grade school students with pedestrian and bicycle safety training, maintain local multi-use trails and paths, increase neighborhood bike/pedestrian connectivity, and raise awareness of active transportation issues through advocacy with the Gainesville and Alachua County Commissions.

All kinds of people use active transportation — some by choice and others by necessity. 6.15% of Gainesville workers commute to work by bike, and 9.2% of trips statewide are taken on foot. Did you know that 68% of people traveling to UF do so via transit (39%), foot (19%), or bike (10%) and that active transportation (bike/pedestrian/transit) accounts for more than 92% of trips on campus according to a UF transportation study?

Active transportation benefits all of us. It reduces road congestion, makes parking easier, and saves Florida taxpayers billions of dollars in health care expenses each year (about 50 cents per trip taken).

We all also pay for roads. Active transportation infrastructure costs much less to build while generating more jobs per mile and reduces road maintenance costs dramatically. We pay about 6.5 cents per mile driven to build and maintain roads and about 29 cents per mile driven in additional costs to taxpayers — and this doesn’t include the costs of vehicle ownership.

GCAT envisions a community in which active transportation is a viable and attractive option for all, and we invite everyone to join us and get active so that we can transform our vision into reality. You can start by liking us on Facebook where you can learn about our public meetings, projects, and city and county meetings related to active transportation. At the very least, just keep riding and walking!

Remember how you felt the last time you were stuck in traffic? Use that memory as motivation to get out of your car and onto your bike; break in those sneakers or that bus pass. Thousands of your neighbors do every day, and I doubt anyone looks at the cars stuck in traffic and thinks to himself, “I wish I drove my car today.”