How do you stimulate the economy, get the biggest employment bang for your buck, and create a healthy, sustainable transportation network at the same time? Easy. Build Bicycle lanes. A December 2010 report by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst finds that  pedestrian  and  bicycle infrastructure projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million of spending while road infrastructure projects create approximately 7 jobs per $1 million of expenditures. That’s twice as many jobs! Using the city of Baltimore as a case study, the authors compared completed pedestrian repair projects, bike lane projects, and road repair projects.

Image via: Luton

12 Responses to Want to Stimulate the Economy? Build Bike Lanes!

  1. Jeff Donnelly says:

    I believe it is an error to limit support of bicycle and pedestrian facilities to bicycle “lanes.” Lanes are but one of many ways to encourage more pedestrian and bicycle use, and, by the Portland record, not the most effective. Bicycle boulevards in Portland have a far greater proportion of actual bicycle use than lanes. If you want to encourage people to start using bicycles as a means of transportation, the focus on lanes before and even to the detriment of other effective bicycle and pedestrian facilities is a mistake.


  2. Of course Jeff - I agree with that sentiment - the point here is that we should be investing in bicycle infrastructure, period.

    Bicycle lanes, at best, can attract only a marginal percent of users. To truly make a difference in the way we live daily, we need a combination of facilities including boulevards, multi-use paths, sharrows, and bicycle lanes.


  3. maf says:

    Has there been any research on the use of bicycle lanes based on climate? Is the use consistent regardless of climate (use up north declining in the winter, vice versa in the south)?


  4. Anonymous says:

    I think it is a viable idea. Also, there needs to be an agency similar to the DMV, except that the focus would be on bicyclists and pedestrians. “The Florida Department for Cyclists and Pedestrians” or FDCP. They could hire citizens to go into schools and neighborhoods to teach other citizens about pedestrian and bicycling safety. The agency would also be charged with increasing awareness of and advocating for cycling & walking.

    … And then I woke up and went back to the real world. LOL


  5. Mike Moskos says:

    I think DecoBike (the bike rental service slowly coming to South Beach) could be a game changer, because while it is awesome to have your own bike, you simply can’t beat a bike for $15 a month, esp. since they store and maintain the bike for you. If it works on the beach, I expect it will slowly expand to many other areas in the county, particularly around Metrorail & Tri-Rail stations. More bikers=more need for bike lanes.


  6. Yes. But… Bicycle infrastructure on the Beach and throughout the metro region is still abysmal. I think it would be kind of negligent to expand Deco Bike onto the mainland without first establishing safer facilities for cyclists. Its a Chicken and Egg scenario.

    A lot of the bicycle sharing systems are premised on successful European models - which is fine - but we don’t have the type of facilities they have in Europe (or Bogota for that matter). The problem is that the bike used for bike sharing systems are heavy, require the rider to sit upright, and are generally not intended to cyclists to be jockeying with cars for a position on the street - they are intended for cycle tracks, bike boulevards, and shared-use paths - infrastructure we don’t have.


  7. Twisted says:

    Bike facilities are not necessary, bikes can ride on road. A stripe may guide a cyclist, or position them in an optimal place but it is not necessary. More bikes on road, and on sidewalks will likely cause people to realize bikes are everywhere and they need to drive with that realization.
    There will also be pushback from motorist and pedestrians as some people will inherently do everything wrong, riding on sidewalk, not yielding to peds, not stopping at signals or signs.
    It will be important to build a strong coalition to absorb those blows and smooth out the image.


  8. Tony Garcia says:

    twisted, that may be the case for experienced riders, but the majority of novice cyclists (like me) will not take the lane or ride anywhere without a bike facility (not even a sharrow). It simply is not safe enough - yet. i agree with the safety in numbers idea - but that happens when you get to a high enough mode share that cyclists are everywhere. We will be lucky to have 2% bicycle mode share by 2020. The safety in numbers you are talking about happens when mode share grows to 15% or more. The county is too spread out, and the density of cycling so low, that it will take a huge culture shift (and $8/gallon gas) to make this a reality.


  9. Twisted says:

    My statement was in regards to Deco Bike on Miami Beach, forgive me if it was not clear that I was speaking on that. I think the Deco Bike thing and adding 1000 bikes to the street will boost Miami Beach’s mode share, even without the existing bike facilities referenced.
    Also, I said facilities aren’t necessary meaning it is perfectly appropriate for a bike to be on the road.
    $8/gallon gas and $9/day in tolls may also help with the mode share.


  10. Rog in Miami Gardens says:

    You still can’t have bicycle lanes without education and awareness. Around Miami Gardens and Opa-Locka where I live, I still see cyclist riding in motorists’ lanes and on pedestrian side walks even though the bike lanes are right there next to them. I’m not sure why. If it is fear, lack of understanding, intimidation or and admixture of both.


  11. Tony Garcia says:

    twisted: i agree 100%. Miami Beach is a great example to point to for the rest of the county. I would be curious how high bike modeshare is on Miami Beach (South of 20th street say). as a way of measuring and comparing bike density, bike infrastructure, and total mode share.

    ROG: tell me about it. i see it all the time. probably, as you point out, a mixture of fear and lack of education.


  12. Jon U. says:

    Thanks for posting this Gabriel. I was in Montreal last summer, and they have dedicated bike lanes on every major street, and it’s no turn on red on the entire island.

    Here in Miami, one corridor that is really important is Coral Gables to Brickell and Downtown Miami. I’ve been biking to work recently from the Gables to the Roads section of Miami along Coral Way. Most of the way I bike on the quiet parallel neighborhood streets just to the south. Since Coral Gables just announced plans to redo Miracle Mile, this is a tremendous opportunity to ask that Coral Gables and Miami create a continuous bike lane from SW 57th (Red Road) to 12 Ave. (There are already bike lanes east of 12th Ave.)

    If the lanes were there, I know people would use them.


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