Share The Road

What are the Benefits to Government When They Invest in Cycling?

  • Physically active citizens are good for the bottom line: they have higher productivity, fewer sick days and need less medical treatment (6).
  • Encouraging Canadians to use their bikes for a higher percentage of trips—and their cars for a lower percentage—would be an ideal way to start reversing the alarming increases in Canadian Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions (5).
  • In order to meet Canada’s Kyoto commitment and reduce GHG emissions by the required 6% by 2012, it will be necessary for all Canadians to reduce transport emissions. Transport emissions account for a fourth of all GHGs. Cycling offers a very cost effective way for governments to GHGs (5).
  • Investing in cycling benefits all our citizens regardless of age or income (1, 2). Cycling is a very equitable mode of transport, since it is affordable by virtually everyone, and with proper training, most people can learn to cycle (5).
  • As noted by the City of Toronto’s Toronto Bike Plan (32):
    • Every auto trip converted to bicycle contributes to improvement of air quality and a reduction of greenhouse gases.
    • Regular physical activity improves health and fitness, and lowers health care costs.
    • Fewer motorized trips mean less traffic congestion and stress.
    • Cycling puts people in touch with their neighborhoods making things safer for everyone.

What About Funding?

  • Substantially increasing the amount invested in cycling would still represent only a tiny increase in overall government budgets.
    • The average annual amount spent for roads and bridges:
      > $50 per person (33)
    • The average annual amount spent on pedestrian/bike projects:
      $0.87 per person (33)
  • Spending such a disproportionate amount of our tax dollars on transportation policies that favor cars over other forms of transportation is quite unfair to many of our citizens. Given that over half of the households in the central Toronto area do not own cars (1, 3).
  • There is a general consensus that any further increases in levels of cycling are severely limited due to lack of funding for crucially needed cycling infrastructure (bike paths and lanes, parking, intersection modifications, etc.) (5).
  • In their study of Canadian cycling policy, Pucher and Buehler found that virtually all of the many case study respondents they contacted for this research indicated that a lack of government funding was a crucial hindrance to necessary expansion of cycling infrastructure (5).
  • A small invest in cycling can lead to very large saving for the government in terms of increased productivity, decreased health care costs, and reducing pollution. A Danish cost-benefit analysis study estimated that an investment under half a billion euros would lead to a 7 billion dollar government saving (6)
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