Bikes Mean Business
The data is in. Bicycles make a measurable contribution to the vitality of our economy, especially considering that investments in bike infrastructure cost only a fraction of those for highways or transit. A study from CEOs for Cities calculates that Portland keeps $800 million yearly that would leave the local economy if people there drove cars at the same high rate as other U.S. cities. Because they spend less money on gas and less time behind the wheel, Portlanders have more of both to spend at local businesses. Mia Birk, CEO of Alta Planning Design with 15 offices coast-to-coast, points to studies of the Portland area showing that bicycle-related businesses directly pump $90 million into the local economy annually and account for 1,000 jobs.
(right) A bike corral attracts patrons to a local business. Photo: City of Portland
By the numbers
Dutch bike expert Hans Voerknecht cites a Danish study showing that every 10 kilometers traveled by car costs society $4.36 in health, infrastructure and other expenses, while every 10 kilometers traveled by bike saves $1.36. People who ride bikes regularly on average live three years longer than people who don’t and have lower health care costs, according to another Danish study. A Dutch study offers similar findings: if no one in the Netherlands rode a bike, the country would be forced to spend $2 billion more for health care each year and another $2 billion in road construction and other costs.