If you are a state DOT or other government entity, you have a choice about how you spend your transportation dollar. What the Portland Metropolitan Region has found, however, is that the return on investment (ROI) in (a) bike/ped (or “Active Transportation”), (b) transit or (c) motor vehicles (i.e. roadway improvements) is not equal. In terms of bang for their transportation buck, bike/ped crushes motorized commuting. Portland Metro spent about 11 times the amount on motor vehicle infrastructure that they spent on active transportation per new commuter:
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To put this another way, not only are walking and bicycling the most cost-effective transportation options for the private individual or family in terms of household budget, they are also far and away the most cost-effective transportation investment option for governments facing budget constraints.
As we struggle to recover from the most severe economic slump since the Great Depression, we’re going to have to, at least temporarily, suspend building bridges to nowhere and roads to subdivisions that don’t exist yet. And we’re going to have to take a few pennies out of those saved dollars and invest instead in making it safe for people to get around by walking and biking.