Combat Joblessness, Stripe a Bike Lane

A bummer of a jobs report came out today, showing that although unemployment dropped to its lowest point in 19 months, it’s still way higher than economists had hoped.

But here’s some good news: according to the League of American Bicyclists, bike infrastructure creates more jobs for the money than roads.

How can that be, if the same amount of money is spent? A new report from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst [PDF] examined the costs of engineering, construction, and materials for different projects in Baltimore and found that bike lanes create about twice as many jobs as road construction for the same amount of money.

bikeleague chart.jpg

“The difference lies in the varying labor intensity and the ratio of engineering costs to construction expenses across project types,” writes the League’s Darren Flusche. “Footway repairs and bike lane signing are labor intensive, meaning that a greater share of the total cost goes to pay people than in material heavy road projects.”

So if lawmakers aren’t swayed by the environmental or public health arguments for greater investment in cycling infrastructure, maybe they’ll get on board once they see that they can get a greater bang for their job-creation bucks by paving cycletracks, not highways.

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