16/05 – Green Dividend

Cities around the world are investing in their cycling infrastructure.

Paris‘ bike share is the world’s biggest with 20,000 bikes and 1800 stations.

In Berlin, where 7 out of 10 residents own bikes, bicycle mode share is 18%.

Barcelona‘s plans to limit automobiles to 40% of inner city roads roads is intended to reduce the 3,500 annual deaths attributed to air pollution.

London is in the midst of a 10 year, $1.4 billion build-out of its bike network. By 2019, it is expected that more than half the trips into Central London will be by bike. 1

The Netherlands began building up its bicycle infrastructure during the oil crisis of the 70’s.  This was also a period in which 400 children a year were being killed by cars. Today, cycling mode share nationwide is 31%, with some cities, over 50%. 2

The European Cyclists’ Federation credits the cycling across the E.U. with adding $27.7 billion per year in benefits in the form of reduced noise, emissions, gas use and healthcare costs.  That’s $546 per person.  3

In Tokyo, a city of 13 million, 90% use mass transit for their daily commute.  Of those, one third bike the first-and-last mile. And with real estate so expensive they’ve developed automated, seismic-resistant underground bicycle parking systems. 4

ECO Bike StorageECO underground storage system. Houses 200 bikes. Image Giken Corporation.

Portland, Oregon, a city of 632,309, has a 6% bicycle mode share including 20,000 bike trips per day across four bridges spanning the Willamette River.  Its cycling infrastructure reduces gas use, congestion, healthcare costs and spending on alternate modes of transport.

Overall, Portland’s green dividend comprises $800 million in savings that otherwise would  have left the city.  5cars vs. housesPortland’s Green Dividend.  Image CEOs for Cities.

Jersey City, Hoboken and Newark all have cycling grids and bike share systems in development.

New York, where 7 out of 10 households don’t own cars, just saw its bike grid pass 1000 miles; its bike share system log 10 million trips in 2015; and overall bike use has triple in the last decade.

Notwithstanding, NYC’s overall bicycle share mode is estimated at under 2%, which portends far greater adoption in the years ahead.

NYMTC and NJTPA, regional planning organizations of which the PA is a member, are keenly aware of cycling’s benefits and are projected to spend $2 billion over the next 20 years to build out their respective bike grids.

Yet PA’s plans to link those grids with a single 7’ path effectively “collar the baby”, ensuring it will choke on its own growth.

USDOT tasks transportation agencies to budget as much as 20% of total project cost to upgrade biking and walking facilities on major construction. 6  On the $1.9 billion budgeted to “Restore the George”, that would be $380 million. 7

Neile Weissman, 2016


1 The Utterly Amazing Growth of Cycling in London – http://tinyurl.com/zjalehx

2 How Utrecht Became a Bicycling Mecca (video) – http://tinyurl.com/znu3vxq

3 Bikenomics: the New Cycling Economy (video) – http://tinyurl.com/zgdlnfj

4 Underground Bicycle Parking Systems in Japan (video) – http://tinyurl.com/o43w2sc

5 How Portland Benefits from Bicycle Transportation – http://tinyurl.com/jcpb9pu

6 Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in construction projects in all urbanized areas, unless the cost would be excessively disproportionate … defined as exceeding 20% of the cost of the project. – US Department of Transportation – http://tinyurl.com/jdnmwd9

7 Reportedly, the PA has budgeted $56 million dollars to upgrade the GWB paths. Net of $37-47 million allocated for anti-suicide barriers, that’s $9-19 million for both the North and South paths. For just the bike path on the North, that’s $5-10 million.