We all know that cycling is good for us and that it benefits the environment. But if you want to make the case for something, it helps to have numbers to back you up, especially in policy circles.
We've covered a few cycling-economics studies here at Co.Exist. But in Bikenomics: How Cycling Can Save The Economy, the Portland-based activist Elly Blue goes further. Her book is comprehensive account of all the ways cycling can save money, boost revenues, and help the economy broadly and locally.
Here are five key arguments she makes:
network of 26 cycling "superhighways" is completed.
more jobs per dollar than roads, according to one study.
"An astonishing amount of space in most urban cores is dedicated to the publicly subsidized storage of private property."Studies show that bike parking brings in more revenue than car parking--at least on certain streets. Blue cites a project in Fort Worth, Texas, where 160 bike spaces cost $12,000--about the same as a single car space. Bikers are more likely than drivers to stop and spend, and, of course, you can accommodate more people in the same space. There's also a potential "green dividend" when people bike about town, rather than driving to suburban malls. Their cash goes to local businesses, not to oil companies and Middle Eastern sheiks. By driving 20% less than other cities, Portlanders contribute $800 million to the local economy, one study says.
In an email, Blue says she wrote the book to give bike advocates stronger arguments than "but bicycling is really healthy and doesn't pollute." "I was watching bicycling enter the national conversation as this sort of goofy stereotypical thing that liberals do, like drink lattes and shop at Whole Foods," she says. "I kept hearing people make economic arguments against bicycling ... but bike advocates didn't have the tools to respond."
While it has a strong point of view, Blue's book is rational, fully footnoted--and, in the main, persuasive. There is a clearly a lot of economic benefit to cycling, particularly in and around cities. That doesn't mean outlawing cars. But it does mean evening up the playing-field in debates. This book should help.
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