Bike Lanes Create More Jobs Than Other Transportation Projects

In the wake of a monumental policy  passed by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission this past week, all transportation project submissions requesting federal funds will require the design to accommodate all users, not just motor vehicles.  This concept is commonly known as “Complete Streets.”  A street designed to be complete is friendlier to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and the disabled.

Some local examples of Complete Streets tactics used here in the Miami Valley are bike lanes, shares, audible signals, road diets, round-abouts and so on.

This philosophy isn’t necessarily accepted by planners, engineers, and community leaders across the board.  As a matter of fact, the process of reaching a “Complete Streets” policy was highly contested and took many years achieve.

The Outdoor Evangelist would like to start a movement to hault all record of referring to pedestrian, bicycle and transit infrastructure and development as “alternative,” considering our own two feet are our primary method of travel, the car, however import to our culture, is historically, the true alternative.

This new policy brings the local planning organization up to speed with the various other regional planning groups across the state,  who have adopted complete streets policies months, some years ago.

Another hot topic in the bicycle and pedestrian planning realm is a popular, and controversial research study that became public this month.  In a article posted by the League of American Bicyclists, “According to a new report by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst says that building bike lanes/boulevards and pedestrian projects creates more jobs per million dollars spent than road repairs and road resurfacing.

Yes, they said it.  Bike lanes create more jobs than other transportation projects.  As a matter of fact, they are cited as creating twice as many jobs. The study, “Estimating the Employment Impacts of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Road Infrastructure,” which examines the costs of engineering, construction, and materials costs for different types of projects in the city of Baltimore, concludes that, for a given amount of spending, bike lanes create about twice as many jobs as road construction. The difference lies in the varying labor intensity and the ratio of engineering costs to construction expenses across project types. Footway repairs and bike lane signing are labor intensive, meaning that a greater share of the total cost goes to pay people than in material heavy road projects. “Each $1 million spent creating on-street bike lanes directly creates 7.9 jobs and creates a total of 14.4 jobs when we include the indirect and induced effects,” the author, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, writes, “The two categories of road repairs have the lowest employment effects, with 3-4 direct jobs and approximately 7 total jobs created for each $1 million.”

More information on this exciting research and other complete streets projects can be found by visiting League of American Bicyclists website.  Interested in reviewing the MVRPC Complete Streets Policy in its entirety? Their website has not only the policy but details the process and a presentation providing a great overview of what a complete street is and how it applies to our region.

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