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.