Bikes: Growing the local economy

Today’s excellent post (with useful links) by Grist columnist Elly Blue, ‘How Bicycling Will Save the Local Economy (if we let it)‘ reminded me of how often I’ve tried to emphasize this message when speaking about the myriad benefits of cycling.

Imagine getting a $3,000 to $12,000 tax rebate this year. Now imagine it coming again and again. Every year it grows by around a thousand dollars. Imagine how this would change your daily life. … it’s actually a conservative estimate of how much you’d save by ditching your car, or even just one of your cars — and getting on a bicycle instead.”

By switching to cycling transportation, rather than spending a yearly average of $8,500 of your hard-earned income on car payments, insurance, parking, tickets, maintenance and gas… you can redirect some of it into the local economy via groceries, theatre, restaurants, services, etc.., as well as contribute more to your own personal savings for retirement (don’t know about you, but this is something I’m starting to take more seriously).

Thanks to great car-sharing services like Auto-Share now widely available in the city, you can have access to 4 wheels whenever you really need them and still save thousands!  I sold my car (that I was very attached to) back in 2001 to help pay for grad school – I’ve been on 2 wheels, year-round, ever since and haven’t missed the expense, responsibility, or hassle of car ownership one bit.  I’ve structured my life in such a way that I can get to 95% of my regular destinations by bike.  The TTC, or car rental, are handily available on the rare occasions that my bike just won’t get me there.  Although I don’t have to worry about children, I have several friends with kids who have found excellent, non-car solutions.

Although this infographic is specific to car ownership costs in the US, it applies equally well here in Canada and shows the immense amounts of money that are redirected out of our local economy due to the automobile.

Investing in the local economy. Infographic by MGMT Design


And bikes/cyclists really are great for business! There’s been some excellent research done locally by the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation and the Clean Air Partnership via their 2009 report ‘Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business‘. Amongst other very compelling findings about the benefits of on street bike infrastructure, they found that in the study area, “Patrons arriving by foot and bicycle visit the most often and spend the most money per month.”

As per Elly’s piece – there are many additional economic, environmental and health-related benefits to cycling. Not to mention how much FUN it is to ride!

2 thoughts on “Bikes: Growing the local economy

  1. Sam Perry

    Thanks Yvonne. This is a great counter-argument when drivers start going off about all the taxes they pay, and how they support everyone and pay for everything. Drivers pay a lot, but much of that $$$ ends up in questionable places, whereas bike money–both spent and saved–largely stays local.

  2. I agree. My partner and I were gifted a car from an uncle. Though I love having it as an option for out-of-town travel, most of the time I feel weighed down by the expense of repairs, insurance and fuel. My bicycle, on the other hand, fills me with nothing but feelings of ease and joy. I would much rather spend that extra money here in Toronto on local goods and services.

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