Estimating the Economic Benefits of Bicycling and Bicycle Facilities: An Interpretive Review and Proposed Methods

Essays on Transportation Economics

"Planning and policy efforts at all levels of transportation planning aim to increase levels of bicycling. An initial step in doing so is to ensure that a variety of facilities exist for bicycling, such as relatively wide curb lanes, on-street bike paths, or off-street bike paths. But bicycle facilities cost money, their merits are often called into question, and many consider spending on them a luxury. Planners and other transportation specialists often find themselves justifying that these facilities benefit the common good and that they induce increased use. Especially in austere economic times, they are often grasping for ways to "economize" such facilities.

"The purpose of this paper is to review and interpret existing literature that evaluates the economic benefits of bicycle facilities and suggest strategies for evaluating economic benefits in future work. [The authors] first provide an overview of central issues and, in a consistent framework, identify factors that confound the manner in which bicycle benefits are estimated. [They] then briefly describe 25 studies that speak to economic dimensions of bicycle facilities. The third section interprets the existing literature by describing six core benefits of municipal and regional bicycle facilities. These benefits include direct benefits to the user (mobility, health, safety) and indirect benefits to society (decreased externalities, livability, fiscal). [The authors] conclude by proposing how this framework could be built on and challenges that lie ahead."

Filed in: Plans and Policies, Transit, Funding, Why Walk or Bike

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