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Why Bikes Make Sense

A bike-friendly community is not only a healthier, safer, and more fit community, but it is also better off economically.  The articles linked below outline the benefits of creating space for bikes and to those that ride them.

Out of the largest 60 US cities in 2011, Pittsburgh ranks as the 3rd highest percentage of people who walk to work, 16th highest who bike to work, 7th in biking+walking+transit, and 5th highest in biking+walking. Source: US Census American Community Survey

 

Safety

  • Though bicycling is becoming more popular and increasing, bike crashes have decreased by 70% in Portland. “Slower driving means fewer — and softer — impacts: 95 percent of people hit by a car at 20 miles per hour survive; only 15 percent survive at 40 mph…In the early 1970s, Denmark had the highest rate of child mortality from traffic accidents in western Europe. A new Danish road traffic act in 1976 made it the police and traffic authority’s responsibility… to protect children from traffic on their way to and from school. They created a network of traffic-free foot and cycle paths, established low-speed areas, narrowed roads and introduced traffic islands. Accidents fell by 85%. In Denmark, more than 20% of all journeys are made by bicycle, compared with fewer than 3% in Britain. Partly this is because a Danish cyclist is 10 times safer than their British counterpart, even though Denmark has a higher level of car ownership than Britain.”
  • As more citizens begin biking, drivers actually become more attentive and careful, as these drivers become more aware of the rising bike presence, and are more likely to be bikers themselves.
  • According to this article, Pittsburgh ranks as the 9th safest metro area in Pennsylvania, with 10 percent of total traffic deaths being pedestrians, totaling 49 in 2007-2008.  We can certainly shoot for a higher level of pedestrian safety than this.
  • “Auto crashes is the leading cause of death for people age 6-27, males age 6-23 & 26, and females age 4-6 & 8-28. (4)” http://bicycleuniverse.info/tr.....afety.html

 

Economics

  • The economic impact of motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways has reached $230.6 billion a year–nearly 2.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product or an average of $820 for every person living in the country–the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports. Using data from the year 2000 (in which 41,821 people were killed, 5.3 million were injured and 27.6 million vehicles were damaged), the agency found that the average roadway fatality has economic costs of $977,000, while the costs associated with a critically injured crash survivor surpasses $1 million. The yearly economic costs also include $61 billion in lost workplace productivity; $20.2 billion in lost household productivity; $59 billion in property damage; $32.6 billion in medical costs; and $25.6 billion in travel delay costs.
  • “In 1996 the average age of cyclists killed in traffic crashes was 31 years, and the average age of those injured was 23.2 years. In 1986, the average age was 23 years. (5)” Aligning these numbers with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation data of the average age of the medically uninsured, shows that 63% of the uninsured are 34 years old or younger.  These young, at-risk cyclists cannot afford injuries or expenses resulting from bicycle traffic accidents.
  • Bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located. Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million.”
  • People on bikes spend money! Local shops and restaurants really do benefit from cyclists around the community.  This article exhibits how just one car parking spot, converted to a parking spot for multiple bicycles, can increase the revenue brought into a shopping district.
  • PA Commutes will show you the savings! Type in your commute info and see the possibilities
  • People want bike lanes and trails. Those looking for a new home, rank only one thing higher in what they look for in a location, access to highways for their commute.  Bike infrastructure has never shown to decrease property values, but always increase the values of the properties in the community.
  • Bikes add up! “bicycle-based consumers spend less per transaction, they make more visits and spend the most collectively

 

Health

  • In this great article written by Alan Durning, he highlights the great health benefits to a life of a cyclist.
  • Pedalling Health, an Australian study published in 1996, concluded that an hour of biking a day — normal for a regular bike commuter — prevents four times as much heart attack risk as it adds in collision risk. The iconoclastic British transport researcher Mayer Hillman did a study for the British Medical Association in 1992 reportedly showing that for every year of life lost to a bike crash, twenty years of life are gained from stress reduction, greater cardiovascular fitness, and improved mental health.”
  • Poor air quality is blamed for thousands of deaths every year.  Encouraging more bikes and pedestrians to get out on the roads and in the neighborhood shopping districts will greatly reduce the pollutants and toxins in the air.  Walking and biking burns calories. Cars burn fossil fuels.
  • Combining data on air pollution, medical costs, mortality rates, car accidents, and physical fitness, the researchers found that if inhabitants of the sample region switched to bikes for half of their short trips, they’d create a net societal health benefit of $3.5 billion per year from the increase in air quality and $3.8 billion in savings from smaller health care costs associated with better fitness and fewer mortalities from a decreased rate of car accidents.” The full article can be found here.
  • A study done on the cardiovascular benefits of active commuting shows that biking to work will lead to better levels of blood pressure, insulin, and overall weight.
  • For youngsters, including activities, such as biking or rollerblading, will lead to a healthier adulthood.