Cuts to Bike Budget Cost NYC in the Long Run
Federal Funding, Cost-Savings and Lives at Risk
In proposing to cut the NYC Department of Transportation's bike program by 50%, the City Council is endangering the safety of street users and the overall financial stability of the transportation network. Bike lanes are, by definition, safety measures that not only protect bicyclists but calm traffic and lower crash rates across all users. The 9th Avenue protected bike lane has cut crashes among bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists by half. The comprehensive costs of a single traffic fatality in New York City can exceed $3 million, demonstrating the dramatic cost savings that street safety improvements like the 9th Avenue bike lane produce.
Investments to the bike network are usually funded 80% through federal money, with the remaining 20% provided by the City of New York. For every dollar that is cut from bike funding, four dollars of matching federal funding are at risk. Moreover, every mile not driven in New York City saves money otherwise spent on road maintenance and costly car infrastructure. Inexpensive as they are, improvements to the City's biking and walking infrastructure help rein in the spiraling costs of car-centric streets. As our transit system faces steep fare hikes and service cuts, the bike network provides much-needed flexibility for thousands of commuters each day, and will become an increasingly important piece of our public transportation picture.
"This is no time to be penny-wise, pound-foolish," says Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "It makes no sense to trim from modest biking and walking budgets when the financial sustainability of our transportation system depends on growing these trips."
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