The latest revelation from Willamette Week shows that the Portland 2030 bike plan cost estimate is 1.5 billion. Some argue that it will only be 613 million, but that figure apparently does not include costs such as overhead and personnel. Nevertheless, the bang for the buck here is unarguable.
Let’s take a look at the numbers to see why.
First, it is commonly thought that there are 15,000 daily bike commuters in Portland. Commuting is considered work days, so that amounts to about 250 days per year for an annual total of 3,750,000 trips. If you do the math, it works out to only $20 for every bike commute for the next 20 years.
That amount pales in comparison to the fuel saved, the reduction in green house gases, the reduction in noise pollution, obesity, traffic jams, traffic accidents, wasted space for parking, etc.
The only thing that might make more sense is to begin paying anyone who commutes to work in Portland by bike $20 for every commute. This way, we would not need the new spending as there would be fewer cars on the roads and thus, more room for bikes. Plus, it would increase bike commutes immediately, not in 10 or 20 years, when it will no doubt be too late to arrest the warming.
The money and time saved on traffic enforcement, parking spaces, traffic jams, etc., etc. would more than offset the $20.
Let’s be bold in our thinking in Portland, for once, and begin this vital program today. What are we waiting for? Vancouver? Eugene? Some other city will no doubt beat us to the punch if we don’t act now.