New report: bike lanes mean jobs

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

This just in: It takes more people to build a $1 million infrastructure project for bicycles and pedestrians than it does to build a $1 million road for cars and the like.bikelane

That makes sense if this is true: that $1 million is not much when you’re building a highway but it’s a lot when building bicycling lanes -- thus you can do more miles on the money and need more people.

More people means.... more jobs.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impacts has just been released by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Heidi Garrett-Peltier's research has resulted in “the first national study to compare job creation of bicycling and walking infrastructure with other roadway construction projects,” according to America Bikes, a group that advocates for “positive outcomes for bicycling in the federal transportation bill funding.”

Using bid price and cost data, the study compared 58 projects in 11 cities.  Bike projects create 46 percent more jobs than road projects that do not have bike or pedestrian components.

The report says that, on average, the road-only projects that were evaluated created 7.8 jobs per million, while the bicycling-only projects created 11.4 jobs per million.

For example, a roadway-focused project with no bicycle or pedestrian components in Santa Cruz, Calif. generated 4.94 jobs per $1 million spent. In contrast, a bicycle-focused project in Baltimore produced 14.35 jobs per million. The PERI reviewers attribute the difference to the simple fact that bicycle and pedestrian projects are often more labor intensive.
road_constructionEveryone's yelling jobs. The most important thing. Jobs, jobs, jobs. And tight budgets is neck-and-neck as an issue, so this bike study might be timely reading for members of Congress as they work on a six-year surface transportation bill in which funding for bicycling and walking infrastructure is part of the debate.

I'm battling my pessimism here... wondering how much more money bicycle lobbyists would need to have a voice against those who lobby for cars, trucks, gas etc.

A lot, I'll bet.

But here is a hopeful tidbit, quoted from the study:

"As noted by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences: transportation planning and policy efforts at all levels of government aim to increase levels
of walking and bicycling. To make the best use of limited transportation funds there
is a critical need for better information about two important considerations relating to bicycle
facilities. The first of these is the cost of different bicycle investment options. The
second is the value of the effects such investments have on bicycle use and mode
share, including the resulting environmental, economic, public health, and social benefits."

“It’s no secret that investing in transportation infrastructure creates jobs and helps the economy,” said Caron Whitaker, Campaign Director at America Bikes. “This study proves bicycle and pedestrian projects are no exception — in fact, they are especially efficient in creating jobs.”

Just so you know, the research institute in Amherst specializes in such topics as globalization, energy efficiency, a living wage and to "increasingly focus the public economics debate on human and ecological welfare."

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