Cost of moving people in our cities
We would like to correct a misstatement of fact contained in Ron Pudwell’s letter to the editor about the cost of bike lanes (Red Deer Advocate, March 7, 2014).
Pudwell asserts that “the street was bought and paid for mostly by auto taxes” when referring to streets in downtown Red Deer. While it isn’t clear what Pudwell includes in the term “auto taxes,” we suspect that he means fuel taxes. According to Alberta Energy, of the 9¢/litre tax on all gasoline sold in Alberta, 5¢/litre is returned to the cities of Edmonton and Calgary based on volume delivered to those cities. The balance of provincial fuel tax revenues goes into general revenue, which is used to fund priority government services like health, education and infrastructure (see http://www.energy.alberta.ca/Oil/pdfs/FactSheet_Gasoline.pdf). In other words, virtually none of Red Deer’s capital costs — including roads — are funded by fuel taxes.
One must also realize that the difference in the cost of building one km of road for cars versus one km of separated lane for bicycles would be huge! Plus the maintenance cost from car wear and tear would also be vastly different than that of the lane used by bicycles. Cycling infrastructure is actually cheaper than anything else we do to move people around in cities.
Funding issues are commonly cited by vocal anti-bike-lane campaigners. We don’t dispute that these are important issues but we believe that an informed factual background is a prerequisite to any useful discussion about those issues.
Red Deer Association for Bicycle Commuting