Bike Infrastructure Leads to Greater Employment
An interesting report featured in the Bike Coallition of Greater Philadelphia's blog highlights the benefits of bike infrastructure going beyond public health, safety, and wellness. According to a study done by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) in Amherst, Massachusetts, bicycle related infrastructure improvements have the highest rate of job creation compared to other transportation infrastructure projects. The PERI’s study focuses on 58 projects from 11 US cities and compares the rates of job creation among different transportation infrastructure projects.
The study looks at three categories of job creation, direct, indirect, and induced. Jobs directly related to the project include the construction workers, planners, and engineers directly involved with the project. The indirectly related jobs include the manufacturers and other components of the supply chain responsible for supplying the materials and equipment needed for the projects to be carried out. Also recorded are the numbers of induced jobs created per project, which refer to jobs related to the needs and spending of the direct and indirect workers including food and retail services among other things. The number of jobs is based on a unit of $1million in spending on each type of infrastructure project.
The types of infrastructure projects included in the study are: bicycle only, pedestrian only, off street multi-use trails, road only, and road with bicycle and/or pedestrian facilities. Variations in jobs created from city to city are often related to whether the materials used come from within the state or not. Differences in jobs created are also, on average, related to how labor intensive the job is. Bicycling infrastructure projects often require more planning and design, thus employing more people and requiring a larger portion of the budget to go towards labor. Road projects often require less labor as the majority of costs go into materials and heavy equipment which means they employ less people directly.
PERI found that as an average for all 11 states and 58 projects, for every $1million spent on an infrastructure project, 11.4 jobs are created for bike only projects, 9.57 for off street multi-use trails, 9.91 for pedestrian only projects, 8.53 for road infrastructure with bicycle and pedestrian facilities, 8.42 for on street pedestrian or bike facilities without road construction, and 7.75 jobs for road only projects. These numbers are the total amount of jobs including direct, indirect, and induced. There are further breakdowns of the totals in PERI’s report, which show the differences in types of jobs created by each project. However, projects considered to be bike infrastructure only, lead in job creation in all three categories.
The findings of this report can be very useful for cities and planners considering bike infrastructure as it is hard evidence of the benefits this infrastructure gives beyond public health, safety, and wellness, along with the other economic benefits. For anyone in neighborhoods trying to get bike lanes and road sharing infrastructure put in place, the findings of this report can be valuable in arguing your case for you, because in this economic climate, its hard for anyone to turn down job creation.
The whole report and all of the charts can be found here: http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/published_study/PERI_ABikes_October2011.pdf