Alex Goldmark is the senior producer of New Tech City, a storytelling show about how technology is changing society. Subscribe here to get New Tech City shows delivered right to your devices. Follow him on Twitter @alexgoldmark.
Study: On Job Creation, Bike Lanes Beat Roads
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 06:47 PM
Back in January we reported on a study using local data that found that building bike lanes brought more bang for the buck on job creation than building roads. Now, the original researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute of U. Mass Amherst have expanded that study to 11 cities with the same findings.
"Overall we find that bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located. Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. ... and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million."
The study says bike lanes generate more jobs per dollar spent because building a bike lane is more labor intensive than building a road. "A greater portion of the spending is used to employ construction workers and engineers, both labor-intensive industries." So, for example, "a bike path which requires a great deal of planning and design will generate more jobs for a given level of spending than a road project which requires a greater proportion of heavily mechanized construction equipment and relatively less planning and design."
They study adds that a greater proportion of road spending "leaks" out of state for supplies.
These findings are already being used by advocates like America Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists to argue for more bike lanes, and to steer tight infrastructure dollars toward bike plans at a time when an increasingly effective argument for spending on road repair is not disrepair but job creation.