Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure Is Better for the Economy

06/27/2011 4:25 PM |

Lets do more of this!
  • “Let’s do more of this!”

While it’s fairly self-evident that biking and walking are healthier ways to get around a city than at the wheel of a car, it may come as a surprise to certain residents of (to name a totally random Brooklyn street completely at random) Prospect Park West, to learn that building bike and pedestrian infrastructure creates more jobs than constructing regular old roads.

According to a new study released this month by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (PDF), bicycle infrastructure projects create 46 percent more jobs per $1 million spent than road construction projects that don’t include bike or pedestrian components. The study, entitled “Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impacts,” is based on data from 58 different constructions projects in 11 U.S. cities. This passage from a League of American Cyclists blog post about the report sums up the most pertinent data:

On average, the “road-only” projects evaluated created 7.8 jobs per million, while the “bicycling-only” projects provided 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, Md. 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.

The hope is that the report makes a sufficiently compelling case for the economic benefits of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to ensure their continued prioritization in Congress’s work-in-progress, six-year Surface Transportation bill. If not, the recent streak of shot-down bike lane projects will likely continue.

(Photo: Flickr, League of American Cyclists)