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28 CHAPTER 3 BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OF BICYCLE FACILITIES PREVIOUS APPROACHES change over time will help in evaluating and prioritizing spe- cific investments. A key to encouraging bicycling and walking is to ensure that adequate facilities exist to use these modes. For walking, this includes sidewalks, public spaces, and street crossings. OVERVIEW OF ISSUES For bicycling, this includes relatively wide curb lanes, on- street bike lanes or off-street bike paths, and even parking and To estimate the economic benefits of bicycle facilities it is showers at the workplace. But bicycle facilities cost money, necessary to provide an overview of the main issues involved, their merits are often called into question, and many consider the matters that confound such endeavors, and a justification spending on them a luxury. Planners and other transportation for more structured research. specialists often find themselves justifying that these facili- The overarching issue is reliably determining an economic ties benefit the common good and that they induce increased value for a facility for which there is no market value and lit- use. Especially in austere economic times, planners are often tle data for its use. Bicycle facilities, like wilderness, a clean looking for ways to economize such facilities. environment, and access to open space, represent non-market Urban planners, policy officials, and decisionmakers have goods not bought or sold. There are no prices for their use that lacked a consistent framework from which to understand the can be manipulated and, as a result, they represent a good for merits of such facilities. These officials are often presented which it is extremely difficult to derive an economic value. with information on how much these facilities cost. Opponents Furthermore, given current levels of bicycling use, one per- of bicycle projects consistently use such information to con- son's use does not interfere significantly with another's and tend that trimming particular projects would preserve funds the costs of restricting entry to the facility outweigh any rev- that could be used for other purposes. Cost data are readily enue that could be raised. Bicycle facilities exhibit character- obtained; it is relatively straightforward to account for the istics closely resembling what economists call "public goods." acquisition, development, maintenance, and other costs for But if certain goods are thought to contribute positively site-specific or aggregate cases. The benefits of such facili- to human well being, they are considered to have economic ties, however, are considerably more difficult to estimate. To value (the reverse is also true). Under these circumstances, respond to such policy and planning needs, the purpose of literature from the field of economics and transportation this section of the report is twofold. The first is to review and has devised general methods for estimating economic values interpret existing literature evaluating the economic benefits attached to non-market goods and services. These include of bicycle facilities. The second is to suggest methods and methods to measure both revealed and stated preferences for strategies to create guidelines. a good. Revealed preferences are used to identify ways in The purpose of a framework for organizing and catego- which non-market goods influence the actual market for some rizing benefits is to provide a clear means of identifying other goods and are estimated using methods such as hedo- the myriad benefits being discussed and who benefits from nic pricing, travel cost, or unit day values. Stated prefer- them. This is important because different types of benefits, ences are used to construct markets, asking people to attach even if they appear similar, may be of different magnitudes, an economic value to various goods and services and are esti- or stem from different policy decisions or facility invest- mated using methods such as contingent valuation or con- ments. The benefits of bicycling are largely a function of the joint analysis. amount of cycling; they will invariably depend on finer de- Measuring any aspect of bicycling facilities is also compli- tails such as the location, purpose, person cycling, and char- cated because discussion of transportation facilities typically acteristics of the facility being used. Understanding the size considers matters in terms of auto, transit, or non-motorized of the benefit requires at least a reasonable estimate of how travel; doing so aggregates walking and cycling. For abstract large they are in one's own local area. Information on the or general purposes, this may suffice and is often done in size of benefits will be useful in justifying expenditures on transportation research. In terms of daily use and facility cycling in general; while understanding how they might planning, however, bicycling and walking differ significantly.

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29 Pedestrian travel and infrastructure have the following unique graphic scale or type of facility? (2) who benefits from the characteristics. First, all trips--whether by car, rail transit, or facility? (3) which benefits apply to the facility? (4) what units bus--require pedestrian travel because they start and end with and methods are used? How does one compare the economic a walk trip. Second, sidewalks and other pedestrian related benefits gained from Colorado's mountain biking industry to amenities are often standard requirements in zoning codes. the quality of life or neighborhood-scale benefits from build- Third, pedestrian concerns typically relate to relatively con- ing a neighborhood bike path for children? How do the air fined travel-sheds or geographic scales (e.g., city blocks). pollution benefits of increased cycling relate to quality of life Bicycle travel and facilities, on the other hand, tend to apply benefits from the serenity of a nearby rail-trail? How reliable to longer corridors, fail to be used as readily and frequently as are the safety estimates for different types of bicycle facili- walking facilities, and are therefore considered more discre- ties, especially given existing debate over on-road versus off- tionary in nature. Most important, whereas pedestrian plan- road facilities (57, 58)? The studies and approaches to date ning applies to a clear majority of the population (nearly represent initial attempts to understand such benefits. They everyone can walk), bicycle planning applies to a consider- often do so, however, by estimating them over inconsistent ably smaller market of travelers--those who choose to ride a geographic scales and making a variety of assumptions (some bicycle. During the summer months in most of the United of which go unstated or are extremely case specific). Each States, this includes slightly more than one-quarter of the consideration is described in the following subsections. population (47). Poor data are a concern for all analysis of non-motorized transportation (bicycling or walking). There exists a variety What is the Geographic Scale or Type of Facility? of sources from which basic bicycle behavior can be deter- mined, for example, the census, metropolitan/nationwide The first consideration pertains to the geographic scale of travel surveys, facility specific surveys or counts, and national the inquiry or facility in question. Past work has analyzed the surveys such as that administered by the Bureau of Trans- benefits of a specific greenway or active recreation trail (59 portation Statistics (47). Specific use and facility information 65), a specific trunk roadway (66), a region (67, 68), an entire may be available for select areas throughout the country. The city (69), or an entire state (70). Some studies focus on a strengths and weaknesses of these data sources are adequately system of bicycle trails across the state. Others focus on the documented in a report issued by the U.S. Department of benefits of on-road versus off-road facilities. Different geo- Transportation (56). A common theme is that existing behav- graphic scales demand different data requirements, ranging ioral bicycle data lack the breadth and quality necessary for from individual counts of a facility to aggregated counts or reliable analysis. Analysis of cycling use has been especially numbers for a specific area extrapolated to an entire state. marginalized because of the relatively low levels of bicycling (compared with other transportation modes). Such data deficiencies are recognized by the transportation Who Benefits from the Facility? planning community, and procedures and protocol for bicycle data collection are improving. Bicycle and pedestrian travel A second matter relates to the population for whom the ben- are increasingly apparent outside the transportation commu- efits apply. Benefits can be determined in a number of ways nity, including in matters related to livability and public health. depending on the audience of interest and the geographic scope. For example, transportation and urban planning researchers State legislators may be interested in understanding how bicy- are joining forces with public health researchers to better under- cling, the bicycle industry, or bicycle-oriented tourism impacts stand both derived and non-derived forms of "active" trans- a state's economy. Such analysis would resemble input/output portation (i.e., bicycling and walking). These improvements models examining expenditures across an entire state. In are noteworthy and will surely benefit transportation research. contrast, a city council member may seek to learn how bicy- There remains considerable range in how to measure ben- cle facilities enhance quality of life for a given municipality. efits of bicycle facilities. Reviewing past research on the sub- Advocates want to document induced or latent demand for ject in a systematic manner is challenging. Geographic scale, facilities and possible relationships to decreased traffic con- research depth, overall quality, and focus of past study vary gestion. Public health professionals are concerned about the considerably. The research is not cumulative (i.e., studies do safety benefits of such facilities. not build on previous efforts). It is also challenging to find Can a single review do justice to the myriad interests and such research. The research team cast a relatively wide net to beneficiaries involved? This depends on the level of speci- identify papers on bicycle benefits. The team's definition ficity and need of the study. There are competing interests includes any research effort describing or attributing an eco- and multiple perspectives to capture. While actual users are nomic value to bicycling or bicycle facilities. These studies are likely to be the same for any given facility (i.e., people rid- described in detail in Appendix C. ing bicycles), the information likely to be of benefit to the A review of the studies suggests there are at least four issues state bureau of tourism differs from a municipality looking that confound research on this topic: (1) what is the geo- to justify different types of bicycle investments.