Fast Company

Want Jobs? Build Bike Lanes

Turns out that building bike lanes isn't just a benefit for bikers. Building those bike lanes provides a big boost to the economy.

bike lane construction

As states and cities face increasingly limited budgets, tough decisions about service cuts loom. Some people might get frustrated when they see government workers painting out a new bike lane; what was sacrificed to keep those self-important cyclists a little safer? But in reality, bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects generate more than just peace of mind. They also generate 46% more jobs than car-only road projects, according to a new study.

Streetsblog points us to the University of Massachusetts study, which evaluated job opportunities created by 58 infrastructure projects in 11 U.S. states. The result: Cycling projects create a total of 11.4 local jobs for each $1 million spent. Pedestrian-only projects create a little less employment, with an average of 10 jobs for the same amount of money. Multi-use trails create 9.6 jobs per $1 million--but road-only projects generate just 7.8 jobs per $1 million.

A similar study that examined infrastructure projects in Baltimore, Maryland came up with similar results: Pedestrian and bike infrastructure projects create 11 to 14 jobs per $1 million of spending while road infrastructure initiatives create just seven jobs per $1 million of spending.

And so, the latest study's authors reason, encouraging walking and cycling can do more than just cut down on car-based CO2 emissions and obesity rates. They can also "address the problem of unemployment, by creating jobs for engineers, construction workers, and workers who produce the asphalt, signs, and other construction materials." So next time someone argues that bicycle facilities are a waste of money, tell them to think of the job opportunities.

[Image: Flickr user Chicago Bicycle Program]

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

Read More: A Working Version Of A DIY Bike Lane, Projected From Your Sweet Ride

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2 Comments

  • adamtbailey

    I hope the Toronto mayoral office finds time to read this study. They just made a decision to remove new bike lanes on major city streets. Is Toronto the only major city that's actively surprising its bike culture? 

  • Georges Dyer

    And don't forget the extra economic boost from merchants getting more drop-in business from cyclists & pedestrians than motorists.