Another compelling case for bike lanes: job creation. Photo by Steven Vance.

Another compelling case for bike lanes: job creation. Photo by Steven Vance.

Grist.org and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood have been writing about how building biking infrastructure spurs job growth in the wake of two inter-related studies.

Nonmotorized transit projects create indirect, direct and induced jobs (i.e. growth in other industries,) according to a case study from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), “Estimating The Employment Impacts Of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Road Infrastructure,” which examines job data from 2008 in Baltimore, Md. Specifically, the report shows that there are 11 to 14 jobs per $1 million of spending on bike and pedestrian projects, as opposed to 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.”
Data from the report,

Data on employment per $1 million expenditures in biking infrastructure.

Bike lanes create the most indirect and induced jobs. The major reasons there is such variation, according to the report, are both 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.”

Bike and pedestrian infrastructure improve quality of life and street safety, increase physical activity and reduce carbon emissions. This report shows that such infrastructure also improves opportunities for job creation.  As LaHood says, noting a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is widespread public support for active street design in U.S. cities.  ”Putting the two studies together creates a powerful argument for continuing the Department of Transportation’s support for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects,” he states in his blog. “Even as these investments increase mobility, they also generate economic growth. And, people are demanding them for their communities.”