Bicycling good for economic health (and it doesn’t pollute)

Cycling isn’t just good for your personal health, it’s also good for economic health. A new report by the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute finds that cycling projects create 11.4 jobs for every $1 million invested — 46% more the 7.8 jobs than car-only road projects.

[E]conomic benefits include tourism and recreation-related spending (which is a boon to businesses and increases local tax revenues), and a rise in real estate values. Other benefits include higher quality of life, environmental benefits such as buffer zones to protect water sources from pollution run-off, and mitigation of flood damage. A 2008 user survey of a multi-use trail in Pennsylvania showed that over 80 percent of users purchased “hard goods” such as bikes and cycling equipment in relation to their use of the trail, and some also pur- chase “soft goods” such as drinks and snacks at nearby establishments.

The trend is similar to what we see at farmer’s markets, where people have many times the number of interactions than they do at the grocery store (all while supporting local businesses). When cyclists move through properly-designed infrastructure for bikes, they’re more likely to interact with their surroundings and spend more money. Here’s an example from North Carolina:

 

Data were gathered through user surveys and bicycle traffic counts to estimate the amount of money that tourists spent during a visit, the total number of tourists, and the proportion of tourists for whom bicycling was an important reason for the visit. The researchers found that, annually, approximately 68,000 tourists visited the area at least partly to cycle. This led to an estimate that $60 million in tourism spending and multiplier effects came to the area in relation to the bikeways, and supported approximately 1,400 jobs.

When confronted with a decision of whether or not to include pedestrian and/or bicycle facilities in transportation infrastructure projects, planning officials should do so, not only because of the environmental, safety, and health benefits but also because these projects can create local jobs.”

Cycling infrastructure is a win-win-win for communities: They can raise local health standards, increase local economic activity and reduce emissions that impact the global environment. This report offers yet more evidence of the immense benefits for communities that support bicycles.

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