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Did You Know?

Half of school children walked or biked to school in 1969, but only 13 percent were doing it in 2009.

Are walking and biking projects good for the economy?

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Often times, we think of walking and biking as a recreational, weekend activity that allows us to be outside and enjoy our neighborhoods. 

Sometimes we hop in our cars to drive to bike trails that are miles away, or we may go for a leisurely stroll in our community. 

When biking and walking take a recreational focus, we may forget that many people across the state bike or walk out of necessity. 

Safe spaces to walk and bike are necessary for many people to travel to work and school and should be a priority for our leaders.

One reason leaders sometimes shy away from supporting biking and walking projects is due to the public perception of these types of projects as being expensive, taking away from much needed funds for road repairs and maintenance, and providing minimal benefits for the cost.

But that’s not the case.

Turns out biking and walking construction projects are a good job creator and can help boost the economy. 

In a recent study, it was found that bicycling, walking and trail infrastructure projects created more jobs per $1 million spent than road-only projects. 

For each $1 million spent, between 9.6 and 11.4 jobs are created for trails, walking-only, and biking projects constructed, while road projects create only 7.8 jobs for every $1 million spent. 

With unemployment rates in Illinois sitting at 6 percent, we need these jobs.

So what can we do? One solution is supporting programs like Safe Routes to School that fund biking and walking construction projects. 

In recent years, the Safe Routes to School program has lost federal funding and now more than ever we need more funding to implement these types of projects that can create jobs in Illinois.

What can you do to help? Tell your state representative that we need more funding for the Safe Routes to School program to ensure that this crucial funding is available to communities that need it most and would benefit from job creation.

Also, use the hashtag #SafeRoutesIL to tell your community to support the effort to increase funding to Safe Routes to School and help create Illinois jobs.

Image courtesy of pedbikeimages.org and Dan Burden.