Making The Economic Case For Cycling-Friendly Cities With Bikeonomics
We all know that cycling is good for us and that it benefits the environment. But if you want to make the case for something, it helps to have numbers to back you up, especially in policy circles.
We’ve covered a few cycling-economics studies here at Co.Exist. But in Bikenomics: How Cycling Can Save The Economy, the Portland-based activist Elly Blue goes further. Her book is comprehensive account of all the ways cycling can save money, boost revenues, and help the economy broadly and locally.
Here are five key arguments she makes:
Health is the biggie. “Bicycle infrastructure makes so much economic sense that it can accurately be described as a health investment,” Blue says. Portland says health savings could allow it to recoup spending on cycling by 2015; by 2030, it could save $600 million a year. Blue argues that short trips by bike are a more convenient way for people to get daily exercise (more realistic than going to the gym all the time). Inevitably, she cites Copenhagen, that pre-eminent cycling city. It expects to save $60 million a year in health costs once its network of 26 cycling “superhighways” is completed.
On average, urban freeways cost $60 million a mile to build. The best type of protected bike lanes cost between $170,000 and $250,000 per mile and need much less maintenance. “Off-street paths cost less than a freeway project would spend on photocopying in a year,” Blue says. Bikeways also create more jobs per dollar than roads, according to one study.
Blue devotes a lot of her book to ways we subsidize car ownership—for example, in providing free parking downtown. “An astonishing amount of space in most urban cores is dedicated to the publicly subsidized storage of private property,” she says. When you throw in roads, many cities give up over half their area to cars: 65% of Houston is paved with asphalt, for example. Cites are losing a lot of potential income, Blue says. “Highways and parking lots represent a massive amount of taxable property that could yield thousands of dollars per lot, per year—representing millions of dollars of lost revenue for cities.”
Studies show that bike parking brings in more revenue than car parking—at least on certain streets. Blue cites a project in Fort Worth, Texas, where 160 bike spaces cost $12,000—about the same as a single car space. Bikers are more likely than drivers to stop and spend, and, of course, you can accommodate more people in the same space. There’s also a potential “green dividend” when people bike about town, rather than driving to suburban malls. Their cash goes to local businesses, not to oil companies and Middle Eastern sheiks. By driving 20% less than other cities, Portlanders contribute $800 million to the local economy, one study says.
The American Automobile Association says driving a sedan costs $9,122 a year on average, not including expenses like parking. Households earning less than $70,000 spend nearly 20% of their income on transport, Blue says. Bikes are much cheaper—just a few hundred dollars a year for maintenance, gear upgrades, and the annualized cost of a bike. She admits people living outside cities face “tremendous” opportunity costs from not driving. But she refutes the stereotypes that cycling need only be for white professionals, Latino laborers, and DUI offenders. Many other people could cycle and benefit from doing so.
In an email, Blue says she wrote the book to give bike advocates stronger arguments than “but bicycling is really healthy and doesn’t pollute.” “I was watching bicycling enter the national conversation as this sort of goofy stereotypical thing that liberals do, like drink lattes and shop at Whole Foods,” she says. “I kept hearing people make economic arguments against bicycling … but bike advocates didn’t have the tools to respond.”
While it has a strong point of view, Blue’s book is rational, fully footnoted—and, in the main, persuasive. There is a clearly a lot of economic benefit to cycling, particularly in and around cities. That doesn’t mean outlawing cars. But it does mean evening up the playing-field in debates. This book should help.
By Ben Schiller
Today many churches celebrate Boniface (c. 7th century – 5 June 754), a missionary to the people of Germany. The story goes that he took a small axe to a giant oak tree dedicated to Thor. A great wind came and knocked it down (some say when it fell it formed a cross). The people were amazed at the power of the Christian God, converted, and even built a chapel out of the tree.
Boniface is also responsible for giving us the modern Christmas tree, as a symbol of Christ and of everlasting life. Not bad, Boniface. Not bad at all.
(And who knows, without Boniface, the world may never have been blessed with those famous German beard competitions!)
Take a good hard look. Do you know what this is?
IT’S LEG HAIR.
And I am here to inform you that LEG HAIR is NO DIFFERENT than the hair on your head or arms. The only reason that any of you BOYS think that leg and underarm hair on women is SO disgusting is because in 1915 sleeveless dresses became popular, and a razor company decided that they wanted to expand their market, so they came out with an ad campaign that made sure that women knew they had to shave their underarms to be beautiful (which is a concept that didn’t exist before that company decided it was so. It was a scheme to make MONEY.) In the 1920’s, the legs followed suit as dresses got shorter. Once again, the razor company made sure to tell women that they weren’t beautiful unless they used their product and shaved their legs (even though nobody ever thought twice about leg hair or underarm hair before that.) Today, your disgust over leg and underarm hair is a result of years of TRAINING by companies that WANT YOUR MONEY. And that is it. It’s greedy western culture.
Any man (notice I said man, NOT boy) with a brain larger than his big toe would not be disgusted by any body hair because men know that there is nothing wrong with it, and that there is more to a woman than her outside appearance.
Yes, these are my hairy legs. I estimate that I haven’t shaved them in about 2 months because it’s cold out and I don’t give a damn. But you know what? Neither does my boyfriend of almost 5 years. In fact, he makes it a point to rub my legs just to bother me, although it no longer bothers me. He’s not disgusted because he knows it doesn’t matter. IT’S JUST SOME DAMN HAIR, AND I AM NOT THE LEAST BIT EMBARRASSED BECAUSE IT’S NATURAL JUST LIKE MY TEETH, BONES, NAILS, AND THE HAIR ON MY HEAD. When it gets warm enough to start wearing shorts again, or a bikini, then I will shave my legs to fit in with society once again. But when I am lounging around in sweats, or wearing jeans all the time, I don’t see the damn point. It’s not a hygiene issue, it’s a personal preference.
So every single one of you obnoxious and immature boys who complain about how disgusting girls are that don’t shave or wax their legs regularly need to keep your stupid little mouths shut and your opinions to yourself because your words are just as shallow as your intelligence level.
YOU ARE GOOD.
i love you omg thank you
Crochet Dwarven Helm and Beard by saddayscrochet
Created using the finest mithril threads, it’s a crochet helm! It’s a crochet beard! It’s a combination crochet helm and beard! Blessed by the gods with the finest of man-garnishes on my own face, I have no need for such a garment, but if you wish to assimilate into dwarven culture you might want to quest for one.
the extent of fake beards is growing in our culture
A map of the United States with each state’s name replaced with its etymological root translated into English.