Bike lane
Patrick Tuohey

My colleague recently wrote a post skeptical of the Bike KC Master Plan claim that spending $400 million on bike lanes would save 36 lives a year.

She was right to be skeptical of that claim. But it’s not the only claim that deserves scrutiny. The plan also claims it will create 12,600 new jobs. Economics professor Howard Wall responded on Twitter:

They find 12600 jobs through 2050 measured in "job years". So 420 jobs. Their invented measure of jobs is buried in the impact study, but they tout the number as if they didn't create a new use of the phrase.

The summary of findings upon which the Bike KC Master Plan claims are based states on page 6: “This increase in economic activity leads to 12,600 additional jobs (measured in job years) over the period.” The period is 30 years, 2020 through 2050. So dividing 12,600 “job years” by 30 years gets 420 actual jobs.

One can still be skeptical of that much smaller claim, but it is not the claim made by the Bike KC Master Plan, which prominently and repeatedly states 12,600 “new jobs.” This number is at best misleading.

Incidentally, the authors of the report upon which this is all based would not release the paper to the Show-Me Institute as they are not finished with it. Yet, the summary of the findings is available. How one can summarize findings before the paper itself is finished is a mystery. Perhaps that explains the questionable claims of 12,600 new jobs and 36 lives saved each year.

Anyone who is serious about public policy should be very skeptical about these claims.


About the Author

Patrick Tuohey
Patrick Tuohey
Director of Municipal Policy

Patrick Tuohey is the Director of Municipal Policy at the Show-Me Institute.