Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Bike Doctor and Bike Dividend: Mainstream Lauds for Bikes

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:

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.

Lots of good links and information in the piece.

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....

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.
And More on Downtown Parking

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.


Walker said...

When tallying the costs, also don't forget that nearly all our roads would be immortal if we kept heavy vehicles off them. If we convert a few streets to bike-only, we will see a sharp drop in maintenance costs, which can then be spent on the roads that allow the heavier vehicles, shoring them up to a higher standard so they can take the abuse, leading to lower total upkeep costs.

The discussion of the next thirty years is going to be how to manage the depraving of roads we can't afford to maintain and how to tame the auto as it recedes in importance and becomes less of a default choice and assumed part of life.

If we try to cling to carburbia, it will bankrupt us, just like clinging to militarism bankrupted the soviets. Of course, it would be fitting if we went broke because we couldn't take our hands off the wheel, just as they couldn't put down the guns that were the heart of their system, but it will have such a nasty effect on so many people that it's better avoided.

Walker said...

Depraving = de-paving. Damn you, auto-correct!