The League of American Bicyclists recently reported on the astounding benefits of biking in Copenhagen, Denmark. The biggest highlight is that biking produces economic gains in a community, while driving produces losses:
The report says “When all these factors are added together the net social gain is DKK 1.22 per cycled kilometer. For purposes of comparison there is a net social loss of DKK 0.69 per kilometer driven by car.” 1.22 Danish crowns is about 25 cents and a kilometer is 6/10 of a mile, so we are talking about a net economic gain to society of 41 cents for every bicycle mile traveled. That’s a good number to have in your back pocket.
Translation: biking financially benefits the entire community. Grist reported on this story as well, noting that people in Copenhagen also bike in the winter. And judging from the pictures I just googled, a Copenhagen winter leaves quite a bit of snow on the ground.
The link at the beginning of this post also includes information about biking in Quebec, Canada. According to the article, Quebec’s biking investment is now paying off financially. That type of information should offer a clear justification for Provo to boldly move forward with its own biking infrastructure.
But I think the most significant information — at least as it applies to Provo — is that Quebec has seen a dramatic increase in biking in just the last few years.
- The number of adult cyclists has increased by 500,000 since 2005;
- More than half (54%) of Quebecers cycled in 2010, a return to 1995 levels (53%) after decreases in 2000 (49%) and 2005 (47%);
- The number of people who cycle at least once a week has increased steadily since the year 2000 (from 1.6 million in 2000 to 1.8 million in 2005 and 2 million in 2010);
- 84% of children and teens cycle, a 9-point drop in 5 years;
- The proportion of utility cycling has doubled: 37% of cyclists were using their bike as a means of transport occasionally or daily, compared with 20% in 2000;
- Between 1987 and 2010, the total number of bicycles in Quebec more than doubled and the number of regular cyclists increased by 50%. During the same period, cycling-related fatalities decreased by 58%, serious injuries by 72% and minor injuries by 52%.
These numbers suggest that it’s possible to dramatically increase the percentage of the population that bikes. Changes in culture and practice won’t automatically happen, of course, but Quebec is just one example demonstrating the benefits of smart investment.