Portland’s Biking Infrastructure Cost Same as 1 Mile of Freeway

Friday, March 25 by JerryFoster

Moving Beyond the Automobile: Biking from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

In a recent episode of Moving Beyond the Automobile, a Streetfilms.org series, Portland, OR Mayor Sam Adams claims the total cost of their city’s award-winning bicycling infrastructure is the same as 1 mile of 4-lane freeway. What does Politifact.com have to say about that?

Portland is a national leader in building a bicycle and pedestrian friendly community, one of only three Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Communities, according to Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.

According to Politifact, when Portland estimated the total cost of their biking infrastructure since 1993, “they came up with an estimated value of $52 million and adjusted it up to $60 million to be safe.” That wasn’t the actual cost, though – according to Roger Geller, Portland’s bike coordinator, “The $60 million figure is essentially the replacement value of our network as it existed in 2008 in 2008 dollars.”

To compare against the cost of a freeway, Politifact used several sources – costs were reported to vary widely depending on the surrounding environment, from $20 million to $80 million per mile for a 4 lane urban freeway. So Politifact gave the mayor’s statement a Mostly True!

Of course we’re all concerned about cost, but what about value? What return does Portland get for its investment? We’ll take that up in a future post.

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