The social and economic gains of cycling (and losses of driving a car)

Widely reported in the bike-news media is the recent Bicycle Account, a bi-annual report produced by the City of Copenhagen, Denmark. Inside this report is an interesting and somewhat startling set of numbers regarding the social and economic benefits of cycling:

When all these factors are added together the net social gain is DKK 1.22 per cycled kilometer. For purposes of comparison there is a net social loss of DKK 0.69 per kilometer driven by car.

Take a look at the League of American Bicyclists account by clicking here, where they discuss some of the particulars, or the Grist article that delves into what these numbers actually mean for the city.

Business Insider did a little math, and came up with some figures for the U.S. —

If the same rate of Americans commuted by bike as our friends in Copenhagen (35 percent), we’d have more than 109 million cyclists on the road.

At $0.42 earned for every mile biked, that means we’d contribute $46 million to the economy each day and nearly $17 billion in a year, most of which would be funneled back into the health industry.

Take a look at their full report by clicking here.


  1. BluesCat

    Unfortunately, that math gets too complicated for certain politicians in Washington, DC. 🙁

  2. Iron_Man

    The cyclist in me just wants this to be so right on. The libertarian in me is highly suspicious that this study didn’t come with a huge degree of confirmation bias. I highly doubt a study that compares the social costs of driving, paid for by a society that places a VAT of 25% and a registration tax of 105% or 180% (depending on value) is going to be terribly objective concerning the economic gains, both real and potential, of the automobile. It’s certainly not going to be directly translatable into US dollars with simple currency and distance conversions–even without the heavy auto taxation issue. Still, it’s a fun read.

  3. Mir.I.Am

    Math is not my strong point – but it seems like what they are trying to “report” is that cycling makes people happy… I don’t need official DKKs and percentages to know that it’s TRUE for me!

  4. Matt

    Here’s an excerpt on what they’re actually measuring:

    A number of factors are included in the equation such as transport costs, security, comfort, branding/tourism, transport times and health.

    That seems pretty tangible to me.

  5. Guy

    I don’t do numbers. Bicycling makes me happy all the way around.

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