A few years ago, Delaware and the nation plunged into the worst recession in 80 years. In January of 2008, Delaware’s unemployment rate was just 3.8%. Just two years later, in January of 2010, our state’s unemployment rate had more than doubled to 8.5%. That was the peak and in the two years since, the unemployment rate has started to come down. But it’s coming down much more slowly than it went up. Today, more than two years after the peak, our unemployment rate is still nearly 7%.
If you have a job, it may be hard to truly understand how catastrophic such extended high levels of unemployment are. But these abstract numbers represent lost economic growth, lost careers, discouragement and misery. We need to do everything that we can, as a state, to put as many out-of-work Delawareans back to work as possible with the resources we have available to us. By doing so, we will also simultaneously sustain, and accelerate, our economic recovery.
How? By being smart. John Maynard Keynes, the Depression-era economist, famously said that government could jump-start an economy by putting people to work doing anything – including digging holes and then filling them right back up. But that was just to make a rhetorical point. Everyone understands that it is far better to put people to work doing something that actually improves either our productive capacity, our quality of life or both.
The classic example of a project that puts people to work and leaves you with something to show for it afterwards (better than a filled-in hole) is a road. Road projects are an effective intervention in an economy suffering from stubborn and persistent high unemployment. But, here’s the thing: cycling projects are much, much better than road projects as an intervention. For a given amount of spending, cycling projects put a lot more people to work. An American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) – commissioned study that was published earlier this year quantified the difference. Compared to “safety/traffic management” road projects, cycling projects create 60% more jobs. And, if you make the comparison instead to simple “pavement improvement” road projects, the difference is even more startling. Cycling projects create 80% more jobs!
Over the past two years, Bike Delaware has fought for – and won! – millions of dollars in authorized funding for cycling projects. In addition to the many, many, many other benefits of these projects, they will put a lot of people to work!
By joining with other cyclists, you are supporting an organized, unified and powerful voice for bicycling. We have shown how powerful – how irresistible, in fact – we are when we are unified, organized and focused. If you want more of that – and want to simultaneously put the maximum number of people back to work and improve our economy as part of the bargain – please help by becoming a member of Bike Delaware, today.