The report states that in 2010 cycling contributed 2.9 billion British Pounds to the economy.
Which would be 4.7 billion US Dollars; note that is billion with a “B.”
This figure is not just new bicycle sales; it includes income made by people working in bicycle manufacturing and retail. It also estimates for example that people who commute to work by bike are healthier and therefore take less sick days off work. There are many other factors taken into account that contribute to the 2.9 billion figure; you can read the full report here.
One piece of information I gleaned from this report (On page 16.) is that between 10,000 and 15,000 people commute into London every day by bicycle. That figure is up 52% since 2007, and the forecast is for that number to quadruple by 2025.
I wonder if the average motorist driving into London and complains about the increased number of cyclist he encounters, realizes what a huge positive impact that number of regular bicycle commuters has on his daily drive.
As most people drive solo in a car, 10,000 bikes means 10,000 less cars on the road on any given day; 10,000 bike commuters is the low side of the estimate.
A car needs a lot of space to operate, not just due to its increased physical size but due to the space required between each car which is far greater than the vehicle itself. Most car safety advocates agree that a car needs 2 seconds time lapse between vehicles in order to maintain a safe stopping distance.
At 20 mph. (29.33 feet per second.) a car should have 29.33 x 2 = 58.66 feet of space between it and the car in front. Add to that the length of the vehicle; let’s assume it is an average compact at about 15 feet.
That is 73.66 feet (22.45 meters.) of road space needed for every car; so take 10,000 cars off the road and you free up a whopping 139.5 miles of roadway. (Using Wolfram Alpha to calculate.)
The reason I chose 20 mph as the car's speed was because I figured this might be the average speed of a commute into to London during rush hour with the resulting stop and go traffic. A car would take up less space while at a standstill but would require more than 73.66 feet if going at more than 20 mph.
On the other hand, a bicycle takes up little or no space because the average car can pass a cyclist within the same lane. If a motorist has to slow to safely pass a cyclist, rather than become annoyed at the cyclist’s presence, he should realize that the cyclist represents one less car ahead of him that he would most likely not be able to pass.
Think of the impact that 10,000 per day less cars on the road has on the wear and tear of the road’s surface; a bicycle puts little or no wear on the road. Motorists who complain about the increased number of cyclists on the road, and complain about the cost of installing bike lanes, etc., are really not looking at the whole picture.
They should instead thank the person who decides to ride his/her bike to work, and in doing so takes one more car off the road. London is only one city in the world where this is happing.
I have recently been critical of cyclists in New York for running red lights, etc. However, bicyle commuting into New York City every day, will be having a similar positive impact as London, with the resuliting reductiion of cars.
Footnote: The picture of a London street at the top of this piece came from this article. (Worth a read.) It is interesting to note there are twice the number of bicycles in the picture than cars.