Editorial: Who Pays for the Roads? Funding Bicycle Infrastructure is a No-Brainer

Note: The following editorial was written for the Sept 29th issue of BANG! This version is slightly longer and annotated.  Elly Blue of Grist and BikePortland published a similar article recently, and I’ve added some of her perspective to mine.  You can read her incredible article here.

A Silly Question

One of the biggest debates that we see in the transportation world is whether we should spend money on car infrastructure or bike and pedestrian infrastructure. It’s a common debate, but it’s also silly.  It’s silly because those two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive – good bike infrastructure benefits cars and vice-versa. It’s also silly because the debate compares apples to oranges, or more aptly: huge friggin’ GMO hydroponic tomatoes to tiny cherry tomatoes.  Car infrastructure is expensive, and bike infrastructure is cheap.  Ridiculously cheap.  Funding bike infrastructure is the best value per dollar for improving all types of transportation in Eugene.  It provides for safe and attractive bike and pedestrian facilities which remove cars from the road and relieve congestion.

If you don’t drive a car, even for some trips, you are subsidizing those who do — by a lot. … To balance the road budget, we need 12 people commuting by bicycle for each person who commutes by car.

Elly Blue @ Grist

Consider this: Portland’s entire 300 miles of bike infrastructure – including bike lanes, paths, and bike boulevards, costs the same as one mile of urban highway.  That’s 60 million dollars, if you want real dollar amounts.  60 million dollars for one mile!  For the cost of just two miles of urban freeway, Eugene could catch and pass Portland and become the most bike friendly city in the country. This is why any debate around whether or not to fund bike infrastructure is so ridiculous.  Cyclists want only pennies compared to what car infrastructure gets.

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Bikestravaganza Comes to Eugene!

Elly Blue (of BikePortland.org fame) and Joel Biel are stopping in Eugene on their Bikestravaganza: Off the Chainring Tour!  They’ll be giving a free 2 hour presentation at the Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) general meeting.  Quoted from the GEARs blog:

For our September general meeting GEARs is pleased to present Joe Biel and Elly Blue in their Traveling Bikestravaganza!  Please join us on Thursday, September 9th from 6pm to 8pm for a traveling road show of bicycle talk, movies, zines, and transportation activism and advocacy. Elly Blue and Joe Biel will present short videos and a slideshow about Portland, Oregon’s famous bicycle culture and infrastructure, followed by an interactive discussion of the future of transportation infrastructure and advocacy in our town and beyond.

(click here for the full GEARs blog post)

Everyone is welcome at the event, even non-GEARs members.  It will be held from 7-9 pm on Thursday, Sept 9th in Room 240A, McKenzie Hall, University of Oregon. (map)

I asked Blue to provide WeBikeEugene with a short explanation and writeup of her travels (10 states in 30 days!), and to explain what the Off the Chainring Tour is all about.  Take the jump to read her response and to view their video trailer.

Continue reading “Bikestravaganza Comes to Eugene!”