Northeastern project shows how green infrastructure saves lives and money

We all know that biking and walking are good for our physical health, but it turns out the benefits of promoting these healthy transportation options go far beyond personal health and wellness. A new study analyzing the health and economic benefits of a proposed green infrastructure project found that the initiative would save 770 lives and $7.6 billion annually. 

The project, proposed by the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), is a collaboration between 12 Northeastern states and Washington, DC to upgrade infrastructure to promote more cycling and walking throughout the region. It would include a “cap-and-invest” program to reduce emissions and reinvest in green infrastructures like EV charging stations and bike lanes. Although not a long-term solution, requiring emissions-producing companies to pay emissions credits is a good place to begin when it comes to jump-starting green infrastructure. 

The researchers looked at improved physical health and reduced traffic accidents as factors for lives potentially saved with walking and cycling infrastructure. The researchers note that the lives saved would probably exceed predictions as their model did not take into account the long-term effects of improved air quality on public health. On the economic side, jobs created with the green infrastructure upgrades as well as the financial benefits tied to improved public health were primary factors in money saved. 

Demonstrating the tangible benefits of transitioning to greener transportation systems is effective in convincing more cities and states to adopt programs like this one. We are excited to follow its progress and see how the cap and invest program reduces emissions and improves infrastructure in the Northeast.

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