October 1, 2008
KBOO Bike Show: The Bike Economy
Listen to the show (mp3, 20.0MB)
Portland's bike economy is surging. Tori and Carl talk about the bike industry in our region with guests Jennifer Nolfi (Portland Development Commission), Jessica Roberts (Alta Planning), and Matt Cardinal from Signal Cycles.
October 2, 2008 7:24 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
In perspective, what is the value of the "auto economy" in Portland?
It's nice to throw out that the "bike economy" is X number of dollars, but that means nothing without comparison. Or the "rail economy" given that Portland is home to the premier freight railcar builder in North America. Or the "truck economy" given that Portland is home to the premier builder of over-the-road tractors. Or the "air economy" given that Portland is home to a major airport and a significant Boeing operation.
October 10, 2008 1:34 PM
Jim Labbe Says:
Rrick. I think you miss the point. The point of Alta's study was not that our other transportation systems don't have economic value but to highlight the previously under-appreciated contribution of bikes and bicycling. Moreover, contribution of bike-related industries to the local economy - which were narrowly defined in the Alta study- appears to be growing by leaps and bounds.
I'd wager the contribution of bike and bicycling, like transit, is also a more direct contribution to the local economy. By burning carbohydrates instead of carbon we avoid exporting our fuel costs to oil and gas producers whether foreign and "domestic" (but not local).
October 10, 2008 6:20 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
No, I don't miss the point.
There is still no comparison - so what if bicycling contributes X number of dollars - compared to what?
The motor vehicle industry still contributes to the economy. I own a bike and not one component of my bike, or any of its accessories, had anything to do with Portland other than that I bought it at a store in Portland - so the only real "local" contribution was to pay for the sales clerks and the income of the store. The majority of the money spent on my bike and its accessories promptly left Portland.
There are companies here in Portland that manufacture motor vehicles and vehicle parts. There are dozens more people who work as auto mechanics or service people; gas station attendants, etc.; their incomes don't immediately leave the Portland area but are recycled again and again as they in turn purchase goods and services, or pay for housing, etc. Freightliner is a good example, yet I don't see anyone proclaiming Freightliner's impact in Portland.
"By burning carbohydrates..." is another example of money leaving Portland - how much of that food is produced here in Portland? By burning those carbs, we're actually paying for mostly out-of-state (and often international) food vendors, associated transportation costs, etc. At least if we purchase the food from a restaurant, we're paying for wait staff, chefs, etc., but that food probably wasn't produced within 50 miles of Portland. Or even 100 miles.
Just as a comparison, PDX (the airport) had an economic impact of $5.6 billion - leap years ahead of Portland's $90 million bicycling industry - built upon gas-guzzling, carbon-spewing Boeing 737s. And that's not including the economic impact of Cascade Station (where much of the money gets loaded onto cargo ships at Rivergate Terminal 6 and gets shipped back to China, or onto Northwest Airlines flight 92 to head to IKEA headquarters.)