Via Sarah Mirk of the Portland Mercury, a new study from the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts, finding that bike lanes and pedestrian projects create more jobs than road building. From the study:
Each $1 million spent creating on-street bike lanes directly creates 7.9 jobs and creates a total of 14.4 jobs when we include the indirect and induced effects. By comparison, pedestrian projects and bike boulevards create slightly fewer jobs: about 6 direct jobs and 11 total jobs for each $1 million spent. The two categories of road repairs have the lowest employment effects, with 3-4 direct jobs and approximately 7 total jobs created for each $1 million. Thus bike lanes, for a given level of spending, create about twice as many jobs as road construction
The reasons that bike lanes do so well is that they’re labor intensive: creating an on-streeet bike lane mostly requires some engineering and a crew to paint the streets, plus a bit of paint. Road building, on the other hand, requires lots of crushed stone, concrete, asphalt, fuel, and a bunch of additional raw materials. Because so much road construction money goes for the materials, the jobs impacts of a road project are a lot smaller. (And that’s even considering the indirect jobs in the manufacturing and mining.)
Mind you, this isn’t just a theoretical result. It’s based on an evaluation of actual transportation projects in Baltimore. So next time somebody makes the argument that you need to build highways to create jobs, you can tell ’em to hit the road.