Every mile biked in Baton Rouge provides an additional $2.12 to the economy through a combination of gas and parking savings, decreased wear on roads and reduced traffic congestion, according to a new report from nonprofit Bike Baton Rouge.
Replacing a daily two-mile car commute with a bike trip could save an individual $42.20 per week or $2,120 a year, the group estimates.
The report was developed over the past year and was created to illustrate the economic value of bicycle infrastructure, like safe lanes for cyclists, as the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and BREC continue to work to develop their Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. The plan is slated for release by May 2019.
Bike Baton Rouge estimated it costs individuals and society $2.88 per mile to drive a car, but riding a bike costs only 75 cents. The estimates were made based on data for cost of vehicle operation, infrastructure wear, parking, congestion, health, pollution and greenhouse emissions and time.
While $2.88 per mile may not seem like a lot, the nonprofit says if the population of Baton Rouge biked at the same rate as residents do in New Orleans, it would result in a net savings of $42 million annually.
Last year, volunteers with the nonprofit counted bicyclists in the city over the course of two days. They counted over 850 cyclists per day at Dalrymple Drive at East State Street and over 670 bicyclists at Milford Wampold Memorial Park.
From 2015 to 2017, the Capital Region Planning Commission counted nearly 400 people per day utilizing the Mississippi River Levee bike trail.
The nonprofit estimates that all bike lanes included in the study saw their investment paid off in six months, while larger projects, such as the Mississippi River Levee trail, took five years or less or see a full return on investment.
“It shows that not only is the cost of bicycle infrastructure relatively inexpensive,” says Doug Moore, president of Bike Baton Rouge, “but bike lanes and paths actually make money for the city over time.”