How to create jobs: bike lanes

By Felix Salmon
June 22, 2011

We know that infrastructure spending is a good way of creating jobs. But what kind of infrastructure spending? Heidi Gerrett-Peltier looked at pedestrian, bicycle, and road projects in Anchorage, Austin, Baltimore, Bloomington, Concord, Eugene, Houston, Lexington, Madison, Santa Cruz, and Seattle — and came to a pretty clear conclusion:

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. Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million.

This finding isn’t new, but it’s worth remembering as signs of detente start to appear in the war on bikes. It’s hot out there, people: no one wants or needs to ride fast. You get to a red light, stop at it. Take the opportunity to catch your breath and minimize your sweatiness upon arrival. And while you’re waiting, you can ponder the idea that every bike lane represents badly needed jobs in a recovery which is going much less well than expected.

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