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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.
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[Source: The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)]

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The Bicycle Dividend

The author of the Economix blog from the New York Times points out the multiple benefits of encouraging Americans to replace at least some driving miles with biking miles.

Bicycle use is good for both people and the planet. In a country afflicted by obesity and inactivity, people who get moving become healthier. Riding a bike to work or to do errands is far cheaper than joining a gym. Cutting back on gas consumption improves air quality, reduces dependence on imported oil and saves money.

Increased bicycle use is practical and feasible, especially if it can be combined with effective public transportation for long-distance needs.

The social cost-benefit analysis is pretty easy to understand:

Here is the economic logic behind increased efforts to promote bicycle use:

Cars enjoy huge direct subsidies in the form of road construction and public parking spaces, as well as indirect subsidies to the oil industry that provides their fuel. These subsidies far exceed the tax revenue generated by car use (as this excellent discussion of the technical issues at stake in these calculations makes clear.)

Yet cars impose major social costs: their use contributes to global warming, traffic congestion, accident fatalities and sedentary lifestyles.

York and most of the surrounding communities are not densely-populated enough for most people to ride to work or even to a grocery store, but future planning and infrastructure development can make biking easier and safer.

For bicyclists, increased numbers often lead to increased safety. As bike paths on roads attract larger numbers of cyclists, the chance of car-related accidents declines, promoting further use. Safety appears to be a major factor for women in particular.

As more people ride to work, cultural norms shift — bike commuting begins to seem less quirky.

… Major improvements in bike infrastructure wouldn’t just make it easier to get to work. They would also create work, a high priority in our high-unemployment economy.

Construction of bike paths offers more job creation per infrastructure dollar than investment in roads.

Read the rest of the article.

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