The August newsletter from Toronto-based 8-80 Cities has the answer next time some motorist hits you with the "you cyclists aren't paying your share for my roads" argument.
Todd Litman, of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, has sifted through the current data on walking, cycling and motoring for this paper: Whose Roads? Evaluating Bicyclists' and Pedestrians' Right to Use Public Roadways.
The 31-page document is jammed with data about who wins and who loses when more people walk or bicycle.
For instance, homeowners win: house prices are 15.5 per cent higher, on average, in communities deemed to be walkable. Property values also rise the closer they are to walking trails. Store owners win: since bicycle parking is space efficient, each square metre of bicycle parking generates five times as much consumer spending as a square metre of vehicle parking. Ironically, cyclists lose (when there are more cyclists) because the funding for local roads comes almost entirely from the local tax base. Everyone pays into that pot relatively evenly, so it turns out that cyclists are subsidizing motorists.
Next time a motoring acquaintance appears to be ready to drop that old chestnut about cyclists and their fair share, step on his voice, and let him know who the real freeloader is.