Bike lanes are often viewed purely from a transportation perspective. It is important to realize the benefits of these facilities go far beyond merely providing citizens with another transportation option. Bike lanes can have a significant impact on preventative health care, affordable transportation, sustainable cities and the security of our nation.
At the core of a sustainable city are healthy people and a sustainable transportation network. Our energy-efficient buildings mean little if everyone drives a personal vehicle to them. A transportation network centered solely on personal vehicles is unsustainable not only from an environmental perspective, but also from a public health, quality of life, financial and land use perspective as well. Indiscriminate paving of parking lots has a tremendous adverse impact on the availability of parks, open space and affordable housing within a city. The solution to our transportation problems are not more cars, more travel lanes or more parking lots. The solution is a multi-modal transportation network that can accommodate the needs of the 21st century.
According to the AAA of Southern California it is estimated that owning and driving a car costs $8,776 per year. This places an enormous burden on everyone but especially people with lower incomes struggling to pay rent and put food on the table. Moreover, it imposes a significant financial burden on state and local governments. A 2009 study by the League of American Bicyclists found that for the cost of repaving three miles of interstate ($75 million), the state of California could have installed 1,250 miles of the state’s most expensive bike lanes. That is the distance from San Diego to Seattle. There is no shortage of funding for these projects, only a shortage of understanding of how funding decisions can be better allocated to provide for multi-modal transportation, sustainable economic development and improved quality of life.