The Economic Impacts of Active Transportation in New Jersey

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Benefits studied:
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Place: Statewide

Overview

This study found that the economic impacts of cycling and walking active infrastructure construction, cycling and walking-related businesses, and cycling and walking events in New Jersey are eight times the amount spent on constructing these facilities in the same year.

Relevance

This study provides an overview of the ways cycling and walking infrastructure can provide economic benefits within a state. However, the spending reported in this study cannot all be attributed to the investment in cycling and walking infrastructure because it is likely that people would continue to participate in these activities without the infrastructure, though likely at lower rates.

Location

This study is statewide in New Jersey.

Trail Type

This study did not address a specific trail, but considered the investment and benefits from all cycling- and walking-related infrastructure in the state.

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to estimate the economic impacts of bicycle and walking (“active”) transportation across the state, with the goal of justifying federal, state, and local investment in active transportation infrastructure. This study was sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

Findings

  • Overall, infrastructure investment, businesses, and events related to walking and cycling are associated with $497.5 million in economic impact, $153 million in labor earnings, and 4,018 jobs. The total economic impact is eight times the amount spent on infrastructure in 2011.
  • Approximately $63 million was spent on active transportation infrastructure in 2011, allocated across 250 projects. One-quarter of this was a one-time federal grant associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, so typical funding would likely be lower. Active transportation spending was 1 percent of total transportation spending in the state in 2011.
  • Spending on active transportation infrastructure is associated with $150 million in economic activity, $44.6 million in earnings, and 648 jobs.
  • The average independent, active transportation-related business employed 3.3 full-time employees and 3.8 part-time employees, with an average of $840,000 in annual revenue.
  • Active transportation-related businesses are associated with $290 million in economic activity, $90.8 million in earnings, and 3,001 jobs.
  • There were 242,338 participants in running, walking, and cycling events in New Jersey in 2011. They spent $35 million during trips to these events, $10 million of which came from out-of-state participants. The authors estimate these events had a total economic impact of $57.8 million, which was associated with $17.8 million in labor earnings and 1,634 jobs.

Methods

The authors collected data in 2011 on three topics related to active transportation: capital investments in active transportation infrastructure, active transportation-related businesses, and active transportation-related events. This study uses an approach similar to state-wide study in Vermont (see 84).

Data on infrastructure capital investments were collected from the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program grant reports, New Jersey Department of Transportation and metropolitan planning organizations grant reports, and county and municipal budgets. They included infrastructure that was clearly cycling- or pedestrian-oriented, such as sidewalks and handicap ramps, but did not include less clearly related items such as widened shoulders.

Data on active transportation-related businesses were obtained from a survey completed online by 53 businesses. An initial set of 317 independent businesses were contacted (17% response rate). Businesses were asked to report revenue, full- and part-time employees, and wages.

Active transportation-related events were used as a rough estimate of total tourism because participation and spending is relatively easy to estimate. The authors gathered a list of running and cycling race events in the state for 2011, which included a list of participants, with contact information, age, gender, and hometown information. These participants were contacted and asked to complete an online survey with questions on trip duration, whether they traveled to the state specifically for the event, and expenditures during the trip. The authors received 300 completed surveys; it was unclear how many race participants were invited to complete the survey.

These data were used as input into a regional economic impact model called the R/ECON I-O model, which is New Jersey-specific.

Citation

Brown, C., J. Hawkins, M. Lahr, and M. Bodnar. 2012. The Economic Impacts of Active Transportation in New Jersey. Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy Rutgers State University of New Jersey.