Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cycling's Economic Impact

From the Wisconsin Bike Federation: Bicycling Contributes nearly $1.5 billion to Wisconsin's Economy every year. http://www.bfw.org/education/index.php?category_id=4746

Granted, the headquarters of Trek and other cycling-related companies are located in Wisconsin, but some of these other statistics are too impressive to ignore:

"Combined with previous estimates of the state’s bicycle manufacturing, sales, and services industry, this means bicycling generates more than $1.5 billion a year in total economic impact."

"By incorporating physical activity into the lives of sedentary Wisconsin residents, bicycling to work could save approximately $319 million a year from reduced morbidity and healthcare costs," they explain. "In addition, fewer cars on the road would result in a decrease in air pollution by fine particulate matter and ozone. This would not only reduce health problems such as asthma and chronic bronchitis but would further reduce health care costs by almost $90 million annually in Milwaukee and Madison alone."

One of our "unofficial manefestos," Pedaling Revolution by Jeff Mapes, also discusses the impact of cycling on the economy of Portland.

This is exactly the kind of information that we need to keep in our back pockets when we get push-back from people about being a bunch of "Lance Armstrong wanna-be's," or when we engage businesses in the conversation about becoming bike friendly merchants!



munsoned said...

I don't know if this is too public a place to discus this, but the idea that Leavenworth can't be put on a "lane diet" for bike lanes because the amount of traffic won't allow it infuriates me.

The whole purpose of getting bike lanes is to reduce auto use and increase cycling use!!!! Make a safe place for people to ride and more people will do it.

This is sort of off topic, but if Omaha doesn't start somewhere with an East/West cycling corridor, it's NEVER going to progress past cycling being publicly thought of as recreation only.


erik said...

your post is dead on.

(munson: omaha needs to ditch the department of roads for a department of transportation, or at least revise its level of service guidelines, for your very sensical proposal to be heard by those who don't care or see the validity of your point)

Steve said...

The more publicly this is said, the better. When you remove some auto lanes, you reduce the number of cars on the road. People change their transportation habits, especially when the infrastructure for other modes improves.

Douglas said...

Lane Diets only work if the amount of traffic is within certain limits. My understanding is roughly 15,000. Any more and traffic diverts to another location. Studies have been done on Leavenworth and my understanding is the traffic count is too high, which would result in bleed over onto more restricted roads. In Leavenwrorth's case there are no other nearby roads that could handle sizable bleed-over. This is still being studied and worked however because Leavenworth is high on the list for getting bike lanes. They just need to ensure they don't create public safety issues elsewhere.

erik said...

not so much though, a comprehensive road diet study would anticipate spill over traffic and recommend appropriate measures be taken on those influenced side roads as well. on that point, something like a boulevard system would be all to easy to implement using many of the residential neighborhoods which are on a grid in midtown (though the political will for any of that in auto reliant o, yikes). it can happen, though.

dale said...

There are plenty of altenatives - Dodge, Farnham, Harney. Make Leavenworth reduced auto, pro bike, walking, with periodic tree mediums. Make it more people friendly rather than a steral corridor for isolating-vehicular traffic.

Lack of vision, possibilities. Part of the equation to increase multimodal traffic is to decrease the ease of car traffic.

munsoned said...

The Douglas, I remember what you said about the study. It just makes me angry that the study is what they use as a roadblock to inhibit progress. To me "the study" = an excuse. I know it's probably not true at all, but I feel like they said, "We got these fools who want to take away our driving rights. What kinda stats can we throw at them to justify our unwillingness to change?"

I'm not trying to argue, I'm just ranting. The Bike Omaha 20 mile network dealie is supposed to add something along Leavenworth. Since bike lanes aren't possible, does that mean "sharrows?" I guess if sharrows give cyclists enough respect and encourage others to try it out, maybe eventually real bike lanes could be a result.

I still think auto traffic could divert from Leavenworth to the many other routes: Dodge, Farnam, Cummings, Center, the Interstate, L st. Most of those routes are either thru all the out West or link up to other good route options. Besides, Leavenworth diverts to Pacific, so we're only talking at most 60th to downtown - 4 miles. Make that one 4 mile East/West stretch bicycle friendly. If that succeeds and creates more bike traffic(less auto traffic), extend along 60th to Pacific and down to UNO/First Data where there's free parking. This could allow people from West O to drive down to the 72nd St area, hop on their bikes, and ride the rest of the way downtown.

I know all of this is just crazy talk, but I can dream, can't I?

Douglas said...

I'm in total agreement with you all. Studies and Statistics can be manipulated to any outcome you want. I don't buy the Leavenworth study neccessarily. I'm not sure what other roadways were studied or what alternative spill-over routes were considered. IMO the more inconvenient driving becomes the more people will choose alt transport.

Steve said...

There is also a study conluding that only 20-60% of traffic from closed roads actually gets displaced. The rest disappears. Of course, that study deals with major roads and freeways being completely closed.

AOJules said...

Speaking of bike friendly merchants, we had a great meeting today with the marketing/special events coordinator for Aksarben Village. They are very excited to do whatever they can to be bike friendly and attract cyclists to their shops.

Stinson Park has major potential for group ride meeting places, and OmahaBIKES events like Handlebar Happy Hour!!

erik said...

has anyone examined omaha's level of service guidelines?

that's where you need to start if you want the outcome of "studies" to support all road users, right now I imagine the calculus is entirely based around car level of service.

has omaha ever done a road diet, anywhere?

munsoned said...

Erik, UNMC, where I work, had enough pull to make it happen on 42nd street. Granted, it wasn't to help anyone else but UNMC. 42nd from Dodge to Leavenworth used to be 2 lanes each way with no turning lane. It never worked that well, so they widened the sidewalks and made it 1 lane each way with long turning lanes. During the afternoon rush hour, there can be a fairly constant line of cars from Dodge to Leavenworth, but that only lasts for about a half hour.

UNMC has enough pull with Omaha, that they probably didn't have to do a study. It is, after all, state property and brings in lots of money. UNMC did have a study done to see if moving SaddleCreek more West between Leavenworth and Dodge is possible. The idea is that Saddlecreek was, at one time, just that - a creek. So it does get horribly flooded when heavy rains fall. If the road was diverted to a revamped 48th street, then that creekbed could be made into greenspace. They figured it out, traffic-wise, but the businesses along Saddlecreek would have to be moved. Not so cheap.

Scott Redd said...

Erik: 16th Street was the object of a lane diet.

This summer, less than a mile of 16th Street, from Capitol to Cuming, went from a four lane (2 lanes in each direction) to 1 lane in each direction, center turning lane, bike lanes in each direction, and curb parking.

It's not much, but it's a start that gets people thinking.