Most of us grew up in a mobile world based on private cars and interstate highways for fast connectivity to just about everywhere worth going but anyone who drives any distance today … our local Harrisburg transportation network is a good example … will find far more congestion and traffic than ever. And we all know that the infrastructure on which our transportation network is built is fast falling apart and will continue to do so unless a magic solution is found and soon.
It all started in 1956 with the Interstate Highway System which cost $25 billion and a decade to complete and it drove our culture of owning a car which represented freedom. But even the best built highways take bushels of money to maintain and last at best 50 years before having to be completely rebuilt. Want to know the cost to build a new highway today? “Bikenomics” has the answer to this and many more questions of interest. Many millions per square mile and in one case (Boston) more than a billion per mile. Yikes!
“We can build our way out of congestion” has been the prevailing guideline passed along by succeeding planners in this country. Road is busy? Add another lane. Or confiscate the land to build another road or highway. And because the gas tax, registration fees, tolls, and other fees and taxes are not enough it means funding from other sources (General category) and borrowing from the future (increased deficits). And because there is little choice most of us have little choice but to buy a motor vehicle to get to where we want to be. A few cities and states are offering alternatives and are examples cited in this book for others to emulate.
The numbers presented in this book (and other sources) are staggering but present a nice comparison to the cost of building and maintaining a first class bicycle network. Add to this the cost to buy and maintain a motor vehicle. And don’t forget to add in insurance, parking, tolls, registration and maintenance costs.
What is the answer? You already know the answer … the simple bicycle along with the supporting infrastructure to encourage more people to bicycle. And the payoff for investing in Bike transportation is well known … economic, improved environment, healthy activity if more people bike with decreased health costs, better physical and mental health, happiness! Getting more people on bikes is a "no-brainer" given the strong evidence that more bicycles bring to a community but of course the people who built what we have today are not going to change what they are already doing because it impacts their jobs and self images.
Some other interesting tidbits gleaned from this book …
· People now spend more at every income level on transportation food
· 70 percent of car trips are for less than 2 miles
· Non-car owners pay a bigger share of the transportation costs than car owners
· Big projects like Super Highways get all the Federal funds because bicycle infrastructure projects are too small to bring powerful backers to the table to lobby for them
· Traveling by bike is safer than driving
· “... in the safest countries for bicycling, nobody wears a helmet”
· Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children above the age of two
· Nearly 20 percent of kids are at high risk for heart disease and diabetes
“Bikenomics” is available at BarnesandNoble.com “Nook” ebook for $5.49.
Article submitted by Jeff McPartland