Economic Benefits of Walking and Bicycling

Pedestrians wait for a table at a crowded sidewalk cafe in Easton, N.J.Walking and bicycling are affordable forms of transportation. Car ownership is expensive and consumes a major portion of many Americans' income. When safe facilities are provided for pedestrians and bicyclists, people can walk and ride more and spend less on transportation, meaning they have more money to save or spend on other things.

  • The cost of operating a sedan for one year in 2013 is approximately $10,374 (AAA, Your Driving Costs).
  • According to AAA and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey, ownership of one motor vehicle accounts for 19.5 percent of a typical household's income.
  • The cost of operating a bicycle for a year is only $308 (League of American Bicyclists).
  • An eight-year study of Atlanta communities suggests that a two person household in a walkable community saves over 260 gallons of gas annually. If gas is $3.25 per gallon, that is over $850 in savings.
  • Walking is free!

Less than the monthly car payment

The annual cost of operating a bicycle is approximately $308 a year, less than the average monthly car payment.

Furthermore, an increasing number of studies show that bicycle and pedestrian facilities increase home values, drive spending at local businesses, and spur economic development in communities.

  • In a 2009 study of the relationship between walkability and real estate value, evidence shows an increase in assessed value of $700 to $3,000 for every one-point increase in Walk Score. In typical metropolitan areas, above average Walk Score ratings commanded a premium of $4,000 to $34,000.
  • The 2012 Benchmarking Report on Bicycling and Walking in the U.S. found that bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects. It also reported that if just one out of every ten adults started a regular walking program, the U.S. could save $5.6 billion in health care costs—enough to pay for the college tuition of one million students.
  • The Bicycling Means Business report by the League of American Bicyclists summarizes the numerous ways bicycling has a positive economic impact on communities, and evidences how such investments are a cost-effective way to enhance shopping districts and communities, generate tourism and support business.
  • A 2013 report that Sonoma County did on the economic impacts of walking and bicycling in the area found that these modes of travel aided the region’s business vitality, employment base, and property valuation.
  • A 2012 report on the economic impacts of bicycling and walking in Vermont found that the bicycle and pedestrian activities in 2009 amounted to a net positive of $1.6 million of tax and fee revenues for the State of Vermont.
  • The June/July 2012 issue of TR News has a number of articles highlighting the economic benefits of walking and bicycling, as well as offering lessons about how to make infrastructure projects financially feasible.
  • Check out our webinar: The Bottom Line: How bicycle and pedestrian projects offer economic benefits to communities.