Saturday, July 16, 2011

Build national bike lanes for jobs, environment and health

Intra-city and inter-state bike lanes are the answer

Every now and then you here an idea that is win, win, win. And idea that can improve the quality of life for everyone. National bike lanes are exactly that. We, Evil Black Economist Blog, propose creating and inter-city bike lanes to create jobs, reduce pollution, and improve public health and well being.

The project address three key areas. It puts people to work, it improves the economy and reduces energy consumption and it improves the health of the nation.

The country needs a labor intensive public works project to boost the economy. We have enough roads already. High speed rail and big energy have a very low job intensity. We need projects that have a very high labor component. National bike paths are that type of project.

The type of bike paths we propose are the high quality, high volume, commuter bike path found in some places in Germany, Scandanavia and the Netherlands.

The path are almost as wide as road(they are roads actually), well paved and drained and completely separate from vehicle traffic. The have separate signs and signaling.
The paths require construction and on-going maintenance.

A second huge benefit is improved quality of life: reduced pollution, congestion and environmental damage. Energy and gas consumption would also be reduced.

The biggest benefit would be in the improved health of our citizens. The US could reverse the trend in obesity.

So how do they work in practice.

Certain low traffic streets in each city would turned in to bike lanes(truck deliveries permitted during certain hours). Higher volume streets would have separate, partitioned bike lanes. Separate bridges or bridge lanes would be constructed. Separate inter-city bike paths would be constructed along highways.

How would bike projects be financed? We are asking for no changes in the existing subsidies for roads, rails, air-ports and mass transit. Existing program would remain fixed at there current levels. We are calling for an end to gas, road and airport subsidies. Let the prices of these services rise to their natural level. Then use the extra revenue to fund bicycle projects.

There is a lot of work ahead to change the "car" first mentality, but the benefits could be huge.

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