Biking and Walking Contribute Millions to Vermont’s Economy

By Carolyn S on January 26, 2012


imageWhat’s the economic impact?

Not surprisingly, that question has been a common theme and focus at this year’s massive Transportation Research Board meeting. And, up in Vermont, Alliance member organization Local Motion worked with a local consulting firm, Resource Systems Group Inc., to answer that question for the Green Mountain State.

On Tuesday afternoon, Beth Isler from RSG Inc. drew a crowd to her TRB presentation on the “Economic Impact of Walking and Biking in Vermont.” In conducting the study, Isler explained, she worked with the advocates at Local Motion to distribute more than 150 surveys to bicycle- and pedestrian-related businesses across the state. But that’s not all. She also tapped into data from the Vermont Agency of Transportation on road project expenditures, accessed statistics on visitor spending related to biking and walking events, utilized modeling from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute and correlated information from Walk Score with real estate sales.

The result? Even in a small state, where locals joke that summer lasts just two weeks, biking and walking provide a significant boost to the local economy. Among Isler’s findings:

  • According to VTrans data, the construction and maintenance of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects and programs brought $17 million in funding to the state, resulting in more than 230 jobs and $10 million in wages associated with those jobs.

  • Based on survey data, bicycle- and pedestrian-related businesses brought in more than $56 million in revenue, generating more than 1,000 jobs and $26 million in associated wages.

  • Forty major events related to biking and walking attracted more than 16,000 participants who brought with them 45,000 additional family and friends. The result? $9.5 million in revenue and 160 jobs which resulted in $4.7 million in wages.

  • Using models from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, RSG calculated that the vehicle miles avoided by the 68 million miles walked and 28 million miles biked resulted in as much as $85 million in consumer and public health savings.

  • RSG also cross-referenced the closing prices on real estate with the Walk Score of those locations. On average, the property values of homes in walkable neighborhoods were $6,500 higher than those in car-dependent areas. Add all those homes together and walkability added more than $350 million to the local economy.

Bottom line: In 2009, biking and walking created at least 1,400 jobs, $41 million in personal income (wages) and $83 million in revenue. In addition, the health and property value benefits could bump that up by more than $400 million. Now those are the kinds of numbers that get policymakers’ attention.

I’ll upload the presentation to the Alliance Resource Library soon.

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