Biking in downtown Denver.
[This article was commissioned by SRAM Corporation, a bike components manufacture headquartered in Chicago, for their Urban Products catalogue.]
This is an amazing time to be an urban bicycle commuter in the United States. According to the American Community Survey, over the last decade the percentage of citizens who frequently pedal to work rose 63% in the 70 largest cities. Sure, even U.S. cycling Meccas like Portland, Oregon, only have a fraction of the mode share of Northern European towns like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. But stateside cycling is definitely on a roll, and we seem to be approaching critical mass.
There are lots of reasons for this bike boom. In gridlocked cities, bicycling is often the fastest, most efficient way to get around. It’s a great way to add physical activity to your routine without having to spend extra time and money at a gym. In a sluggish economy with rising gas prices, not having to spend cash at the pump or on parking is definitely a plus. Cycling instead of driving is an easy way to help out the environment. And, last but not least, navigating a metropolis by bike can be incredibly fun.
But not everybody feels comfortable cycling in a big city. That’s why towns from cost to coast are investing in new infrastructure to make riding safer, more convenient and more enjoyable, from off-street paths and on-street bike lanes, to parking racks and commuter stations that provide secure places to stash your ride at the end of the trip.
Continue reading Move It! A Guide to Getting Around Big Cities by Bike
Photo of the Wabash ‘L’ by Clark Maxwell.
If you call your representatives to ask them to vote against bills that cut transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure funding, you can also add these talking points:
Highways and roads have the lowest return of jobs per dollar of investment
From the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst:
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. On average, the 58 projects we studied create about 9 jobs per $1 million within their own states. If we add the spill-over employment that is created in other states through the supply chain, the employment impact rises by an average of 3 additional jobs per $1 million. Read the full summary. Read the full study, by Heidi Garrett-Peltier.
Bicycling can save the economy
A series of 10 articles on “Bikenomics“, by Elly Blue.
Bicycle transportation is good for a lot of things — it’s healthy, it’s green, it’s quiet, it’s fun, it builds community. It also makes financial sense, and the magnitude of bicycling’s economic impact gets far less attention than it deserves. In the Bikenomics series, Elly Blue explores the scope of that impact, from personal finance to local economies to the big picture of the national budget. In the grassroots and on a policy level, the bicycle is emerging as an effective engine of economic recovery.
People who use transit to commute save thousands annually
It’s a no brainer: no gas and insurance to buy. From the American Public Transportation Association:
The report notes that riding public transportation saves individuals, on average $9,656 annually, and up to $805 per month based on the January 5, 2011 average national gas price ($3.08 per gallon-reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate. [This data is from January 5, 2011, but the information remains true today. The only difference is the calculated dollar amount each individual is saving over driving a car to work.]