Steve Hanley | Clean Technica

Mike MichaelsHere are some interesting statistics about how urban dwellers get around today: Americans rode public transportation 10.7 billion times in 2013—the highest number since 1956. Bike commuting is up 60 percent over the past decade, according to the US Census Bureau. People are walking 6 percent more than in 2005, according to the CDC. The number of miles Americans travel in cars and trucks has dropped 9 percent since 2005.

What do these numbers suggest for the future of our cities? Many observers believe they point toward expanded economic development and lower total emissions in urban areas plus better health and lower health care costs for people living in urban environments.  Here’s more:

Transit Corridors Stimulate Economic Development

The Federal Transit Administration says investment in train service, including light rail, creates more economic benefit than it costs. The new light rail between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul generated $2.5 billion in development (more than double the cost) before the line even opened last June, with much more expected.

Salt Lake City shared similar experiences with its new S-line streetcar, which garnered more than $400 million in development before boarding its first passenger. “In Salt Lake City, rail transit has catalyzed vibrant development,” says Mayor Ralph Becker. “It has been key to achieving mobility and prosperity goals in our city.” Read more