U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently blogged about how building bike infrastructure spurs job growth and a healthy America. He cited two national studies. One examined the economic development impact of bike lane infrastructure; the other surveyed Americans about the types of streets they would like to see in their communities.
Non-motorized transit projects create indirect, direct, and induced jobs according to a case study from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), “Estimating The Employment Impacts Of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Road Infrastructure,” This study examined 2008 job data from Baltimore, Maryland. Specifically, the report shows that there are 11 to 14 jobs per $1 million of spending on bike and pedestrian projects, in contrast to only about seven jobs created through the same rates of spending on road infrastructure.
The types of projects that were analyzed were:
- footway repairs, like “excavation and concrete removal, repairing and replacing concrete sidewalks, and drainage systems,” as well as “planting trees, constructing pedestrian ramps, and laying brickwork.”
- bike lane projects, including “signing and marking for on-street bike lanes,” a planned bike boulevard with “signs and markings,” curb extensions, bollards and planters.
- road repair projects, including basic resurfacing jobs (excavation, paving and pavement marking) or more in-depth projects that involved engineering like “drainage and erosion control, signage, and utility relocations.”
What are the types of jobs created with bike lane infrastructure? Slightly fewer than eight jobs (7.9 jobs) are directly created in the construction and engineering industries. An additional 2.5 jobs are indirectly created in industries such as concrete manufacturing and sign manufacturing. In addition, four jobs in retail, healthcare, and food services are created through the induced effect (these are the “induced” jobs). For pedestrian projects, 11.9 total jobs are created.
Bike lanes create the most indirect and induced jobs. Variation among transportation projects is based on the labor-intensity of certain projects and the ratio of engineering costs to construction costs. Other industries besides engineering, construction and architecture that benefit from the construction include wholesale trade, truck transportation, food services, accounting, and legal services.
In addition, Secretary LaHood refers to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey that showed 67% of American adults are willing to take civic action to support public street design that encourages physical activity. He summarizes: “Putting the two studies together creates a powerful argument for continuing the Department of Transportation’s support for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects. Even as these investments increase mobility, they also generate economic growth. And, people are demanding them for their communities.”
The highest ranking transportation official in the United States, LaHood has been a longtime supporter of cycling. In one of his first blog posts, he wrote: “Cyclists are important users of our transportation systems.”