“Bikenomics” – a landmark planning book!

Source: takingthelane.com

Source: takingthelane.com

Certain books become a classic in their field of study because of their comprehensive nature (i.e. The City in History). Others do from their advocacy and groundbreaking nature (i.e. Silent Spring).  In the case of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economyboth of these reasons apply. Author Elly Blue has written “the” definitive book on bicycle planning that clearly identifies the societal, physical, environmental, and economic benefits of bicycling, while also completely debunking the myths, fables, urban legends, half-truths, and outright lies spread by naysayers and automotive apologists.

Facts are funny things. They tend to get in the way of spurious and superfluous arguments. In Bikenomics, Ms. Blue lays down the gauntlet with factual truths about bicycling and how a vibrant cycling culture can go a long way to curing many of our nation’s ills. If one could quote the entire book in a blogpost, I would.  There are so many quotable gems contained within this publication, that I could fill gigabytes of pages with them. But alas, you should read the book, so I have only provided a few of them at the end of this post.

Believe me when I say this is a book that every planning professional must read and own. It will single-handedly serve as your go-to resource on the benefits of bicycle planning in your community. Kudos to Ms. Blue providing all of us with a fantastic source of information. Enjoy!

Here are a sampling of quotes from the book:

“People who ride bicycles also pay taxes, which means they often pay more into the road system than they cost it. By one estimate, a carfree cyclist would overpay by an average of $250 a year — a few dollars more than the amount that the average driver underpays.” (page 13)

“As it turns out, gas taxes have paid for about 70% of the construction and maintenance costs of the Interstate system to date, with that percentage going down with each passing year. Local roads fare worse when it comes user funding. If you take the nation’s road system as a whole, only 51% of its cost over the years has come from direct user fees.” (page 39)

“When you brush away the rhetoric, though, even the fanciest bikeways are a screaming bargain. For the cost of one freeway interchange, you can completely transform your city and immeasurably improve the wealth, health, and happiness of its citizens.”  (page 49)

“Large road projects are often funded in a down economy because they create jobs. But roads are actually the least job-intensive of any transportation investment. Bikeways are the most, creating more jobs per million dollars spent than roads-this is because there are so few materials involved and most of the budget goes to workers.” (page 51)

“Bikes may not be able to solve our health care crisis singlehanded…But bicycling is one of the rare areas where people can directly and concretely address our own health and the health of our community, and quickly see big results. In this light, bicycling for transportation isn’t so much a lifestyle choice as it’s a form of civic action.” (page 61)

“Minimum parking requirements act like a fertility drug for cars’ – Donald Shoup.” (page 89)

“In the US, 99% of trips by car end up in a free spot [parking spot]. The value of that land—and to a lesser extent, the costs of paving, sweeping, policing, and maintaining it—makes [parking one of the largest subsides going.” (page 90)

“In a car-oriented world, old age becomes a disability for many, long before it might in a more walkable neighborhood. The more car-reliant your daily life, the lower the threshold becomes for frailness, injury, or failing eyesight to be experienced as outright disabling.” (page 104)

“Portlanders drive 20% fewer miles every day than the average resident of a comparable metro area. The total money that we save on those miles we don’t drive is $1.1 billion dollars a year.” (page 113)

Here’s an easy visual link if you are interested in learning more or buying the book:

This entry was posted in Active transportation, Advocacy, bicycling, bike sharing, Biking, book reviews, books, Bus transportation, Cars, cities, civics, civility, climate change, commerce, culture, density, downtown, economic development, economics, Economy, education, energy, environment, fitness, fun, geography, health, Health care, history, Housing, humanity, infrastructure, land use, literature, logistics, Maps, new urbanism, Passenger rail, placemaking, planning, politics, pollution, product design, rail, revitalization, spatial design, sprawl, Statistics, sustainability, third places, tourism, trails, transit, transportation, Travel, urban planning, walking, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to “Bikenomics” – a landmark planning book!

  1. Terry Nobbe says:

    As a former Portlander that now lives 5 miles further west in Beaverton OR, I don’t doubt at all that the author took a page from the BTA (Bicycle Transportation Alliance – www btaoregon.org).


  2. jaxnemesis says:

    This is great Rick. Thanks for sharing it – I’ll certainly be having a read. A driver had a go at me two weeks ago as he was parked in his car in the bike lane and told me “Well, you don’t pay road tax anyway so you shouldn’t even be on the road”. ‘Where do I start?’, I thought. Sounds like this book would give me the sufficient quotes and facts to fling a grumpy driver’s way!


  3. I’m not so sure about some of the excerpts. Send the author to Chicago right now to check out all the potholes in paved streets which impede motorists and bicyclists alike. All kinds of pavement are vulnerable to potholes, though solid concrete (I’d like more of that here!) tends to spall off thin layers more than getting potholes.


    • Rick Brown says:

      Here, we tend to get pothole canyons between sections of concrete. Not sure which is worse. The book goes into much more detail and explanation – I think you would enjoy reading it.


  4. Pingback: More beneficial use of highway money | Panethos

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