Another Report supporting the idea that Bicycle and Pedestrian projects are better for the economy than auto-centric projects.
The U.S. is currently experiencing high unemployment, unsustainable use of carbon-based energy, and a national obesity epidemic. All three of these problems can be partly addressed through increased walking and cycling. Providing pedestrian and cycling infrastructure for the purposes of commuting, recreation, and fitness, is arguably more important than ever before. In addition, this study finds that designing and building this infrastructure can also address the problem of unemployment, by creating jobs for engineers, construction workers, and workers who produce the asphalt, signs, and other construction materials.
We collected data from departments of transportation and public works departments in 11 cities nationwide and evaluated 58 separate projects. These projects ranged from road construction and rehabilitation, to building new multi-use trails and widening roads to include bike lanes and sidewalks. Using an input-output model with state-specific data, we estimated the employment impacts of each project and presented the results by project, by city, and by type. We found that on average, these various transportation infrastructure projects create 9 in-state jobs for each $1 million of spending and an additional 3 jobs if we include out-of-state effects. In addition, we found that the highest level of job creation was for bicycle-only infrastructure such as building or refurbishing bike lanes. These projects created up to 11.4 jobs per $1 million when we consider only in-state effects. This was followed by pedestrian-only infrastructure (such as sidewalks and pedestrian crossings) and multi-use trails, which created close to 10 jobs for each $1 million spent on the project. These findings suggest that when confronted with a decision of whether or not to include pedestrian and/or bicycle facilities in transportation infrastructure projects, planning officials should do so, not only because of the environmental, safety, and health benefits but also because these projects can create local jobs.