• "For the equivalent cost of a single mile of freeway, we have a bike infrastructure."

    by  • March 21, 2011 • Economics, Low Traffic Stress Bikeway Networks, Transportation Trails • 1 Comment

    PolitiFact Examines Portland Mayor’s Claim

    Portland mayor Sam Adams recently claimed that, for all the value that Portland’s bike infrastructure had brought to Portland, the entire cost of building all of this bicycle infrastructure in Portland was equivalent to the cost of a single mile of highway.

    That startling claim aroused the interest of the good folks at PolitiFact, the non-partisan fact-checker:
    Portland’s biking infrastructure is the stuff of legends. For the people who support it, we’re Biketown U.S.A. — the city that boasts (at least among medium and large cities) the highest bike commuter rate. For those who are less into that title, our investments in cycling paths and signs are monetary drains on the city budget.

    You’d think, then, given the strong feelings, that Portland has made significant investments to get a significant infrastructure.

    But something Mayor Sam Adams said recently caught our attention. In a video on Streetfilms.org, Adams touts our biking culture while adding that we built our bike network for about the same amount of cash that a mile of highway would set us back.

    “You know in 1993 we weren’t the bicycling capital of America,” he says. “Seventeen years later, for the equivalent cost of a single mile of freeway, we have a bike infrastructure.”

    Could that be true? We checked it out.


    James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware. He is a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (by whom he was named the 2014 Professional of the Year, Nonprofit Sector), the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Delaware Bicycle Council. He is the co-chair of the policy committee of the Advisory Council on Walkability and Pedestrian Awareness and serves on the board of directors of the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance. He holds engineering degrees from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin and is the only registered lobbyist for cycling and walking in Delaware. He helped create, and continues to lead Bike Delaware's participation in, the Walkable Bikeable Delaware campaign. During his tenure as Bike Delaware's executive director, Delaware advanced in the national Bicycle Friendly State rankings for five years in a row, farther and faster than any other state, ever.

    One Response to "For the equivalent cost of a single mile of freeway, we have a bike infrastructure."

    1. Robert
      March 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      Don't forget that the single mile of highway at $20MM to $80MM is totally worthless. You'd probably need 5 to 10 miles of highway for it to be at all useful. Whereas the bike network has full function for the $60MM.

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