The Economic Benefits of Biking and Walking

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Biking and Walking Improve Maine’s Economy By

  1. Creating Jobs in Maine. Building biking and walking infrastructure creates more jobs for Mainers than projects for cars alone. An average bicycle project creates 3.6 more jobs per $1 million invested than a car-only project[i]. Small projects like sidewalks and bike paths are more likely to be contracted to local construction companies rather than larger out-of-state firms.
  1. Boosting Retail Sales. Foot traffic is great for local businesses. The more walkers in an area, the more likely businesses are to see people dropping in to browse or buy. On average, people who arrive at a business on bike spend less per visit but visit more often, resulting in more money spent overall per month[ii].
  1. Reducing Medical Costs. Maine is the least healthy state in New England,[iii] and physical inactivity causes heart disease and stroke, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes – the four diseases that kill three-quarters of Maine people.[iv] In 2008, obese Americans had medical costs that were $1,429 higher than the costs for people of normal body weight.[v] Building pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure increases opportunities for physical activity and improves health.
  1. Saving People Money. The average American household spends more on transportation than on food or healthcare[vi]. The average cost of owning and operating a car is $8,876 per year[vii] – 33% of the total income of the average Mainer[viii]. The average cost of operating a bicycle is $308 per year.[ix] Choosing biking over driving saves 52 cents per mile[x].
  1. Improving Property Values. Residential, office, retail, and apartment property values tend to increase as neighborhoods become more walkable and bikeable[xi].   Vacancy rates decrease, and trails boost adjacent property values. This is one reason why the National Association of Realtors is a strong supporter of walkable and bikeable neighborhoods[xii].
  1. Reducing Road Construction and Maintenance Costs. Bigger, heavier, and speedier vehicles cause more State and local spending for road construction and maintenance. Walking or bicycling imposes less wear and tear on the road and require less road space. As a result, these modes provide a savings of approximately 5¢ per mile for urban driving and 3¢ per mile for rural driving by avoiding the costs of roadway facility service and traffic service.[xiii]
  1. Building Age-Friendly Communities. Over 17% of Maine’s population is 65 or older and about 21% of Americans 65 or older do not drive[xiv]. When older Mainers can age in place with access to safe transportation facilities including sidewalks and transit, the state and Maine families avoid the high costs of institutional care. And by staying in their hometown neighborhoods our elders can continue to participate in the local economy.
  1. Attracting a Young Work Force. The young people that Maine wants and needs to attract in order to boost our economy prefer walkable and bikeable neighborhoods[xv]. Americans aged 16 – 34 decreased their driving by 23% from 2001 to 2009[xvi].
  1. Boosting Tourism. Bicycle tourists tend to purchase more food and lodging per mile traveled than motorized tourists, which can especially benefit locally-owned small businesses and rural economies[xvii]. According to the MaineDOT, bicycle tourism contributed $66 million to our state’s economy in 2001[xviii]. 
  1. Reducing Costs Of Fatal Crashes. An average of 12 people in Maine are killed each year by cars while walking or biking[xix]. According to the U.S. DOT, the cost of these twelve fatalities totals more than $110 million each year[xx]. 
  1. Reducing Costs Of CO2 Vehicle Miles Travelled in Maine reached 14.5 billion in 2010[xxi]. Reducing this by just 1% would result in approximately 60,000 fewer tons of CO2 emissions from cars in Maine[xxii]. According to the EPA, the value of the avoided damages caused by these emissions would reach $2.3 million[xxiii].



[i] Garrett-Peltier, Heidi, “Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impact,” Political Economy Research Institute University of Massachusetts, Amherst, June 2011, p. 1, Accessed 2/5/15 at

[ii] Clifton, Kelly J. et al. “Business Cycles: Catering To The Bicycling Market” June 2012. Accessed 2/5/15 at

[iii] Portland Press Herald, “Maine back at its lowest point – 20th – in ‘healthiest state’ rankings” December 11, 2014. Accessed 2/5/515 at

[iv] Mills, Dora Anne. 2011. “Poor Nutrition Amidst Plenty.” Maine Policy Review 20(1): 107-123,

[v] Center for Disease Control, “Obesity: Halting the Epidemic by Make Health Easier 2011,” p. 2,

[vi] Consumer Expenditures in 2010, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010. Accessed 2/5/15 at

[vii] AAA Exchange, “ Your Driving Costs 2014” Accessed 2/5/15 at

[viii] U.S. Census, “State & County QuickFacts” Accessed 2/5/15 at

[ix] League of American Bicyclists.

[x] Sierra Club, “Pedaling To Prosperity” Accessed 2/5/15 at

[xi] Litman, Todd, “Evaluating Non-Motorized Transportation Benefits and Costs,” Victoria Transportation Institute, October 2011,, p.22.

[xii] NAR 2013 Community Preference Survey, Accessed 2/2/15 at

[xiii] Litman, Todd, p. 31

iv AARP Public Policy Institute, “Analysis of the National Household Travel Survey,” accessed 12/3/14 at

[xv] The Pew Charitable Trusts, “In Bid for Millennials, Cities and States Promote Cycling” June 25, 2014. Accessed 2/3/15 at

[xvi] INPIRG, “Transportation and the New Generation.” Accessed 12/3/14 at

[xvii] Litman, Todd, p. 31

[xviii] Maine Department of Transportation, “Bicycle Tourism in Maine,” April 2001.

[xix] Maine Department of Transportation, “State of Maine Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash History 2009 – 2013,” accessed 12/3/14 at

[xx] U.S. Department of Transportation, “Guidance on the Treatment of the Economic Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) in U.S. Department of Transportation Analyses – 2014 Adjustment”. June 13, 2014. Accessed 2/3/15 at

[xxi] TRIP, “Maine Transportation By The Numbers” October 2012. Accessed 2/4/15 at

[xxii] U.S. EPA, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle” May 2014. Accessed 2/4/15 at . The average annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a typical passenger vehicle = 4.7 metric tons.

[xxiii] U.S. EPA, “The Social Cost of Carbon” Updated 2013. Accessed 2/4/15 at Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) calculated using a 3% Discount Rate. This represents the value of damages avoided for a marginal reduction in CO2 emissions of one metric ton.