Monday, July 04, 2011

Bicycles as engines of economic development.

It's fitting on Independent Day that Nancy Folbre an economist at the University of Massachusetts has a fantastic blog post on the benefits of bicycling on economic development and the negative economic benefits of driving. In short the benefits of bicycling for freedom.

It has a lot of links to great resources including one to that liberal paper The Economist. I really can't do it justice, but here is a sample. but go read it directly:

Here is the economic logic behind increased efforts to promote bicycle use:

Cars enjoy huge direct subsidies in the form of road construction and public parking spaces, as well as indirect subsidies to the oil industry that provides their fuel. These subsidies far exceed the tax revenue generated by car use (as this excellent discussion of the technical issues at stake in these calculations makes clear.)

Yet cars impose major social costs: their use contributes to global warming, traffic congestion, accident fatalities and sedentary lifestyles.

Bicycle use is good for both people and the planet. In a country afflicted by obesity and inactivity, people who get moving become healthier. Riding a bike to work or to do errands is far cheaper than joining a gym. Cutting back on gas consumption improves air quality, reduces dependence on imported oil and saves money.

Increased bicycle use is practical and feasible, especially if it can be combined with effective public transportation for long-distance needs. As John Pucher of Rutgers University (dubbed Professor Bicycle by some of his fans) explains, about 40 percent of all automobile trips in metropolitan areas are less than two miles – a distance easily biked.


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