Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions from Active Transportation

UPDATED: Check out our new fact sheet.

While it may seem obvious that shifting trips from vehicles to active modes like walking and bicycling will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), it has historically been difficult to quantify the benefits that active transportation improvements will have. Over the past decade research in this area has continued to evolve and it shows that significant investments in active transportation can have GHG reductions that compare with other transportation investments.


The Oregon Legislature has required the Portland metropolitan region to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions from cars and small trucks by 2035. Metro, the greater Portland regional government, developed the Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project to help show how the choices we make today about how we live, work and get around will determine the future of the Portland metropolitan region. Active transportation plays a large part in those scenarios.

There are three scenarios that Metro’s developed to help us imagine what the future might look like in 2035 depending on the choices we make today:

Scenario A: Recent Trends (i.e. Business as usual)
This scenario shows the results of implementing current adopted land use and transportation plans to the extent possible based on current spending patterns and existing revenue.

Scenario B: Adopted Plans
This scenario shows the results of successfully and fully implementing adopted plans and achieving the current Regional Transportation Plan, which relies on increased revenue.

Scenario C: New Plans and Policies
This scenario shows the results of pursuing new policies, more investment and new revenue sources to more fully achieve adopted and emerging plans.

Read more from Metro’s recently released DISCUSSION GUIDE FOR POLICYMAKERS. Decision-makers at Metro are in the process of deciding on which scenario is most effective — and cost-effective — for several focus areas, including: Transit, Technology, Travel Options, Active Transportation, and Parking.

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