The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments

The League of American Bicyclists’ recent policy research report, The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments, contains some real gems. Here’s a sampling:

  • The bicycling industry contributes an $133 billion a year to the U.S. economy.
  • The bicycling industry supports 1.1 million jobs and generates $17.7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.
  • $46.9 billion is spent annually during bike trips and tours.
  • North Carolina’s Outer Banks spent $6.7 million on bicycle infrastructure and they’ve seen an annual nine-to-one return on that one-time investment.
  • In 2000, Quebec’s La Route Verte generated $95.4 million, corresponding to approximately 2,000 jobs and $15.1 million in tax revenue.
  • As a result of policies to encourage bicycling and maintain urban density, Portland residents travel 2.9 billion fewer miles and spend 100 million fewer hours, saving $2.6 billion a year.
  • A 2009 Portland study found that a disproportionate share of the bicycling occurred on streets with bicycle lanes, separate paths, or bicycle boulevards and concluded that the data support the need for well-connected neighborhood streets and a network of bicycle-specific infrastructure to encourage more bicycling among adults.
  • A 2006 Minneapolis study shows that 83 percent of the time cyclists will choose a longer route if it includes a bike lane, and respondents were willing to add 20 minutes onto their trip in order to use a bicycle trail instead of riding on roads with facilities next to parked cars.
  • An NHTSA study found that Urban households without a car, bicycle to work nearly three-and-a-half times more often than households with one car.
  • In urban areas bike lanes can accommodate 7 to 12 times as many people per meter of lane per hour than car lanes.
  • For the cost of repaving 3 miles of rough pavement on Interstate 710, CalTrans could sign and stripe 1,250 miles of California roads for bike lanes.
  • Along San Francisco’s Valencia Street, two-thirds of merchants surveyed four-and-a-half years after bike lanes were painted said that the lanes had a positive overall impact on their business.
  • A 2009 study of Bloor Street in Toronto found that people who biked and walked to the area spent more money than those who drove there.
  • A study of home values near the Monon Trail in Indianapolis, Ind. showed that homes within a half mile of the Trail gained an 11% increase in value.
  • Researcher Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute estimates that replacing a car trip with a bike trip saves individuals and society $2.73 per mile.
  • A 30 percent mode-share in the U.S. would lead to an estimated savings of $163.8 billion a month (nearly two trillion dollars a year).
  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute, gridlock costs the average peak period traveler almost 40 hours a year in travel delay, and costs the United States more than $78 billion each year.
  • The results of a study of 33 large U.S. cities showed that each additional mile of bicycle lane is associated with an approximate one-percent increase in the share of bike-to-work trips.

The full report is well worth a read.

The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments

8 Responses to “The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments”

  • Cyclin Missy says:

    Wow! Very cool!

  • steve says:

    I’m an advocate, but the $133B numbers seems suspect – it would be interesting to see how it was calculated. The entire bike industry in the US in 2008 – sales of bikes, accessories and repairs – was about $6B. Granted a dollar spent is multiplied in the economy, but this amplification seems very large. There are certainly tourism impacts, but one has to worry about sorting out what is attributable to bikes only.

    It may be, but I’d love to see a detailed accounting.

  • Alan says:


    This might shed some light: “The Active Outdoor Recreation Economy”

    From the above linked document:

    “The survey was conducted in October 2005. The report used multipliers (“ripple effect”) from the IMPLAN model. The ripple effect is a common economic tool that considers the economic process of bringing final product to market and the circulation of wages and salaries through the economy to determine total economic contribution. Regional economic contribution and job creation should not be compared to the national figures because of greater economic leakages at the regional level.”


  • Blog » Blog Archive » Economic Impact of Bicycling Investments says:

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  • Adrienne says:

    Even if you were to cut these dollar figures in half, that is still an amount of money that needs to start talking to the powers that be. If X number of people generate Y number of car accidents at an average of Z dollars per accident, how much do we save when those people come out of their cars in favor of cycling?

    I was reading someplace recently, that 80% of urban ambulance calls are for car accidents. Most basic, transport type ambulance rides hover in the $1000 range, so these calls must cost millions and millions of dollars every year. As most municipalities utilize Fire Department EMT services, this is a cost that is placed directly on the tax payer.

    If the average North American city utilizes 30% of its square mileage to create space for cars, how much are we paying per square foot for it? How much does the average parking space cost us (not including parking fees)?

    When you start to really look at driving, and see it for what it is, good and bad, it becomes frightening to see just how much of our lives are spent working to pay the hidden costs of vehicle usage. It is enough to make you sick!

  • Lyle says:

    It’s great to see such large and positive numbers about cycling in general. What’s most encouraging to me and I’m sure many others, is how many cyclists are willing to go out of their way to ride on a separate bike path. That’s certainly the case for me and I hope planners take note of that and start incorporating separate paths as a matter of course.

  • Daily Blog and News Roundup for August 18th « says:

    […] EcoVelo » Blog Archive » The Economic Benefits of Bicycle … by Alan According to the Texas Transportation Institute, gridlock costs the average peak period traveler almost 40 hours a year in travel delay, and costs the United States more than $78 billion each year. The results of a study of 33 large … […]

  • 18 good reasons « Hadrian on a Bicycle says:

    […] According to EcoVelo, the League of American Bicyclists has just published a new report on “The Economic Benefits of Bicycling Infrastructure Investments.” (Please raise your hand if you think our area could use of some economic benefits.) Here are some highlights: […]

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