Build BikeWays. They Pay Their Way Plus Some.
|July 15, 2014||Posted by Staff under Environmental, Health|
This 2014 excerpt of AlJazeera, Jly 11, is by Peter Moskowitz.
As the number of bike riders seems to increase dramatically in cities across the country, there’s been a backlash from people who say bikes are dangerous, and that the added infrastructure that comes with them — namely bike lanes — is an unnecessary burden in a time of large budget shortfalls.
But a new study concludes that policies and projects supportive of bike lanes are worth every penny, and then some. For every dollar spent on bike-related infrastructure, cities can receive anywhere from $6 to $24 in cost savings in the form of reductions to pollution, traffic congestion, and health care costs from decreased traffic fatalities and increased exercise, which alone is the biggest cost savings.
The larger the investment in bike infrastructure, the more people would be encouraged to commute by bike, and therefore the larger the return on investment would be.
Ed. Notes: While some people think bike lanes give privileged travel to the few at a cost to the many, it’s not true. If a road is a right-of-way, then that means anyone has the right to traverse it — not just drivers but walkers, pedalers, horseback mounties, bus riders, you name it. It’s because cars endanger others — not that the others endanger anyone — that cars get to hog what belongs to all.
Roads have not always been the lone province of cars. Not even a 100 years ago, roads were traversed by everyone, as they still are in most places on the planet. But when cars first came out, they were playthings for the rich, and the rich lobbied governments to pave roads for them — at a cost to everyone else — which was an improvement that only cars needed; bikes and horses were fine with dirt roads.
Today, drivers do not come anywhere close to paying for roads or other costs they impose on the rest of society. It’s not the tax on gas but the money in the general fund from other taxes that pay for all this: highway patrols, traffic courts, accident responses, health care for the uninsured, disability payments for those unable to return to work, wasted time of pedestrians and cyclists delayed by automobile congestion, pollution from exhaust, oily runoff, and dust, not to mention sprawling land use that stretches out trip distances, wasting energy and materials.
What’s really needed are not “sidelanes” along streets for bikes like sidewalks for pedestrians so much as entirely separate bike ways. In Germany, bike paths can be a quarter of a mile from highways. Let cyclists enjoy the experience of riding a bike!
To be fair and adhere to the User Pays Principle, there is a way to fund separated bikeways. Government need not register bikes and tax them or tax bike shops. Instead, government could tax land or institute land dues. Land alongside bike paths is of higher value than land alongside roads. Locations where bike paths intersect are of higher value still. Those site rents could be recovered by government and be dedicated to building and maintaining the network of bike lanes. And without any drunk young male car drivers tossing out glass bottles on a weekend night, you won’t even have to worry about flat tires!