Cyclonomics

Since the impact of bike lanes on businesses has emerged as a peripheral issue in the New York City mayoral race, as well as one City Council contest (and counting), a post today from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia seems especially timely.

The coalition points to a June League of American Bicyclists report that heralds cycling as a $133 billion industry, putting some 1.1 million Americans to work and contributing $17.7 billion in federal, state and local taxes annually, in addition to the $46.9 billion cyclists spend on bike tourism:

The report is brief but it does a great job pointing to the economic/health benefits of bicycling while dispelling myths commonly used to oppose bicycle infrastructure investments. For example a study of bike lanes on Bloor St. in Toronto concluded that the addition of bike lanes would be unlikely to harm local business and predicted that commercial activity on the street would likely increase. Three-quarters of merchants surveyed on the street believed that business activity would improve or stay the same if a bike lane replaced half of the on-street parking.

You can find the LAB report, with plenty of U.S. success stories, here. If there is a downside to this bit of positive economic news, it could be that in one of America’s most hospitable cycling towns — Portland, Oregon — would-be pedalers may have a tough time finding an affordable starter ride. Cash for beater bikes, anyone?

In other news, Smart City Memphis laments that city’s refusal to abandon sprawl-inducing land use patterns; Second Avenue Sagas delves into this week’s subway station ceiling collapse; Streetsblog San Francisco offers analysis on the potential positive effect of the transit strike near miss; and Cycling Solution reports on livable streets improvements in Budapest, Hungary.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Money not spent on gasoline and automobiles, generally manufactured outside a local area, will be spent on other goods and services, possibly good and services with a higher local value added. That is the main effect of commuting by bicycle on the local economy.

  • Clutch J

    Regarding “cash-for-bikes,” I’d propose that states begin defining in statute “transportation bicycles” or “utility bicycles,” i.e., bicycles equipped with fenders, carriage capacity, lights, etc.

    That way, we’d have something to point to in order to make bikes eligible for future stimulus, cash-for-clunkers or various air quality incentive programs. We’d be able to point out the types of bikes that would merit public funding, reducing fears of subsidies for $5,000 carbon fiber racing bikes.

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