Building Bike Lanes Creates Twice as Many Jobs as Road Repairs

Politicians often promise to create jobs if elected. But how can a politician make jobs? Apparently by building bike lanes, as these projects create twice as many jobs as road repairs and resurfacing. So when do we start digging?

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is a very vocal supporter of transportation projects besides highway and road projects for cars. In particular, he seems very interested in the prospect of more bike lanes in cities. According to a recent study cited by LaHood, road repair and upgrade projects create, on average, about seven jobs per $1 million spent, which includes labor and material costs. Sounds like a good deal, right?

Well not compared to building bike lanes. Bike lanes and boulevards require fewer materials, but more labor, and as a result for every $1 million spent there are about 14 jobs created. That’s twice as many as highway repair and upgrade projects. Sounds much more cost effective to me.

I’m all for bike lanes, even though I’m an avid auto enthusiast. I’d much prefer to take a bike downtown than drive my gas-guzzling Jeep, but without bike lanes I take my life in my hands (I simply do not trust other drivers). The only question I have about this study is what about total jobs created? I say this because while your average highway project runs in the tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars, many bike projects don’t even break a million bucks. You can only spend so much on a bike lane, but highway projects are much more complicated and involved…and thus probably employ more people in the long term. Also, I imagine the upkeep for bike lanes is a lot less too, again, employing fewer people than repaving a road.

So I guess I’m kinda split on this. Is it better to build multiple bike lanes that employ more people per-dollar spent, or one HUGE highway project that employs hundreds of people over many years?

Source: Infrastructurist | Fastlane Blog | Bike League Study (pdf)

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.