Pedestrian and bike projects are top job generators

  • Job generation table

    Job generation table

    Source: Estimating the Employment Impacts of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Road Infrastructure

New Urban Network

Researcher Heidi Garrett-Peltier wanted to know how much employment is produced by bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects as compared to projects involving other kinds of transportation infrastructure. 

Using Baltimore for a case study, she gathered data from the city government on five different kinds of completed infrastructure projects: 1) footway repairs, 2) on-street bike lanes, 3) a planned bike boulevard, 4) road repairs and upgrades, and 5) basic road resurfacing. 

"The footway repairs included excavation and concrete removal, repairing and replacing concrete sidewalks, repairing and replacing drainage systems, planting trees, constructing pedestrian ramps, and laying brickwork," Garrett-Peltier explains. "The bike lane projects included signing and marking for on-street bike lanes as well as a planned bike boulevard which will include signing and marking as well as curb extensions, bollards, and planters." 

What she found was that "for a given level of spending, on-street bike lanes create the greatest number of jobs. Each $1 million spent creating on-street bike lanes directly creates 7.9 jobs and creates a total of 14.4 jobs when we include the indirect and induced effects."

"By comparison, pedestrian projects and bike boulevards create slightly fewer jobs: about 6 direct jobs and 11 total jobs for each $1 million spent. The two categories of road repairs have the lowest employment effects, with 3-4 direct jobs and approximately 7 total jobs created for each $1 million. Thus bike lanes, for a given level of spending, create about twice as many jobs as road construction."

"Why do the employment impacts differ? Two major sources of variation in project costs cause these differences: labor intensity and the relationship between engineering and construction expenses. First, the labor intensity of the projects varies. That is, some projects are more labor-intensive; a greater proportion of the overall expenses are spent on labor versus materials.

"More labor-intensive projects will have greater employment impacts. Second, the ratio of engineering costs to construction costs varies across projects. Engineering is a more labor- intensive industry than construction, and therefore has a higher employment multiplier. Projects with higher engineering costs (as a share of total project expenses) will therefore have greater employment impacts than projects with a smaller share of engineering costs. These two sources explain the differ- ences in our job estimates presented above.

"Projects such as footway repairs and bike lane signing and painting are labor intensive — they use a high ratio of labor to materials in comparison to projects such as road repairs, which spend a greater proportion of their total project budget on materials."

In her report, disseminated by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she concludes: "Other studies have shown that investments in bicycle and pedestrian facilities can reduce carbon emissions and improve quality of life. Here we find that these investments bring an additional benefit to the community: they are an important source of job creation."

Download the full report below.

baltimore_Dec20.pdf791.2 KB