martes, 27 de diciembre de 2011

La Ciclovia is Good Business!

Ciclovia-type events' economic benefits far outweigh their costs. 
Bogotá's fun, healthful Ciclovia is sometimes described as 'the world's longest street party.'

But it also gets criticized as a frivolous luxury which should be restricted to reduce inconveniences for cars. A few years ago, a congressman tried and failed to cut back La Ciclovia's ending time to noon from 2 p.m. for just that reason.

Kids ride new bikes on Bogotá's Ciclovia. 
After all, everybody knows that automobile drivers are doing something important, while joggers, skaters and bicyclists are wasting time which could be better spent burning fossil fuels.

But now a study published in the Journal of Urban Health finds that Ciclovias, which were pioneered by Bogotá, are good for the economy, too.

The researchers looked at four Ciclovia-type events: in Bogotá and Medellin; Guadalajara, Mexico and San Francisco, California.

The researchers tried to evaluate to what extent the Ciclovía events increased participants' physical activity and also calculated the events' costs. Bogotá's Ciclovia came out first on all points. Firstly, it's the cheapest per-capita of all of the events, at only U.S. $6.00 per participant per year, compared to $6.5 for Guadalajara, $23.4 for Medellin and $70.5 for San Francisco. That's likely because of the Bogotá Ciclovia's great number of participants and greater frequency than the events in other cities. What's more, the Bogotá Ciclovia also produced more savings per peso or dollar invested than the other Ciclovias, all of which were 'profitable,' according to the study. Bogotá's Ciclovía returned between $3.23 and $4.26 for each dollar invested, Medellin's $1.83, Guadalajara's $1.02 to $1.23 and  San Francisco's $2.32.

Doing aerobics in the Recrovia, part of the Ciclovia. 
The 'profits' include only saved medical costs, and not the healthier people's greater productivity at work, which must be substantial.

The return on investment is lots bigger than that produced by a gymnasium or a swimming pool because the infrastructure - roads and parks - is already built.

Of course, La Ciclovía's real value is in the improved quality of life it produces. But cold economic numbers like these justify La Ciclovia for businessmen who are addicted to their cars, or even sell cars.

Comparative weekly costs of various physical activity programs. Bogotá's Ciclovia is the furthest left.
(Graph: BikePortland.org)
Thanks to this 'silly and inconvenient' Ciclovia event, their employees are happier, more productive, miss fewer days of work and have lower health care costs.

Now, if only Bogotá would improve cycling conditions during the other six days of the week!

See also: Study: Health benefits outweigh costs of ciclovia events

By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours

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