Yesterday the NY Times ran a note by a U-Mass economist about the "bike dividend."
Here is the economic logic behind increased efforts to promote bicycle use:Lots of good links and information in the piece.
Cars enjoy huge direct subsidies in the form of road construction and public parking spaces, as well as indirect subsidies to the oil industry that provides their fuel. These subsidies far exceed the tax revenue generated by car use (as this excellent discussion of the technical issues at stake in these calculations makes clear.)
Yet cars impose major social costs: their use contributes to global warming, traffic congestion, accident fatalities and sedentary lifestyles.
Bicycle use is good for both people and the planet. In a country afflicted by obesity and inactivity, people who get moving become healthier. Riding a bike to work or to do errands is far cheaper than joining a gym. Cutting back on gas consumption improves air quality, reduces dependence on imported oil and saves money.
The Statesman also picked up an Oregonian piece about health care professionals who make house calls by bike:
Callahan took up cycling for the obvious benefits: exercise, avoiding traffic jams, spending less money on gas. Ohotto says he began using his bike for home visits more or less out of necessity. He wanted to commute by bike, which left him without a car at work....And More on Downtown Parking
Bicycling also improves the caregiver's state of mind. Callahan says riding to a client's home gives him a few invigorating minutes to breathe fresh air, get the blood circulating and clear his head. It helps lighten up interactions with clients. "I'm feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to roll," he says.
The City just posted the downtown parking tax booklet (32pp pdf). If you want to understand more about the economics of "free" parking in Salem, this is essential reading.