When it comes to our nation’s commitment to investing in bicycling and pedestrian projects, Caron Whitaker of America Bikes reports that “12% of all trips are by bike or on foot, yet America spends only about 1% of its transportation budget on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.“ Add to that the startling statistic that nearly 14% of all traffic-related fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians, and you begin to see a picture emerge that something’s kind of screwy in the land of transportation funding—or as Whitaker puts it more professionally, “we’re over-represented in road deaths but under-represented in road spending.” Indeed, we are.
So, what’s it going to take to get the spending pendulum to swing on over to what would seem to be a proportionately appropriate amount of funding? Biking and walking advocates have been extolling the many benefits of those modes of transportation for years:”It’s good for your health! It’s good for your wallet! It’s good for the environment! Invest in us!” And in fact, there has been a marked increase in biking and walking since 2001; yet funding for infrastructure to make these travel modes safer, more viable options for people lags behind.” Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be great if bike/walk advocates had well-researched, hard-hitting facts to assist them in their advocacy efforts? Something that was so relevant to Americans of all stripes that even the most stubborn “climate-change-is-a-hoax-and-you-can’t-make-me-ride-a-bike” type can sink his/her teeth into it. Ooh…I know…how about JOBS?
Enter the Political Economy Research Institute with their handy new report entitled, “Estimating the Employment Impacts of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Road Infrastructure.” The results of the report are so interesting that it even had U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood blogging about it. Definitely read the full report, especially if you want to know how they acquired and evaluated the data. But if you’re short on report-reading time, here’s a quick summary of the most important findings:
- On-street bike lanes created the most jobs with a total of 14.4 jobs per $1 million spent. That includes 7.9 jobs directly and an additional 6.5 indirect or induced jobs (manufacturing, retail, etc.)
- Bike boulevards and pedestrian projects, which created 11.7 and 11.3 total jobs per $1 million respectively, came in second and third.
- Road repairs and upgrades created a total of 7.4 total jobs per $1 million spent.
- Road resurfacing created the fewest of jobs out of all of the transportation projects, creating only 6.8 total jobs per $1million spent
Responding to the results of the study and its implications, LaHood wrote in his blog post:
Where does that leave us?… Well, there’s a budget process, and there’s a surface transportation reauthorization process–and DOT does not control either. So my message to them was simple: participate in the process. Bicycle and pedestrian activists have been very successful at achieving valuable safety gains for their stakeholders. Now is the time for advocates of cycling and walking to get into gear once again. Armed with the powerful arguments of energy conservation, environmental and health benefits, public demand, and–now–job creation and economic development, I am confident they will succeed.
You can let your voice be heard and support funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure by contacting America Bikes. Many thanks from goDCgo!
By Anne Factor at goDCgo