Readers of Cycling Weekly will be no strangers to calls for more cycling infrastructure, in order to make riding safer and the world a better place, ultimately.
However, this week the calls for more bike lanes had a fresh voice from an unlikely source: Robert Downey Jr. The star of Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes posted his support for more cycling infrastructure on Twitter on Wednesday.
The 57-year-old, who lives in the state of New York, posted (opens in new tab): "Every 1M spent on bike lanes creates 18 more jobs than the same amount for regular auto centric roads…lets “self-propel” our planets future….#bikelanesrock"
While it is unclear what the methodology behind the actor's claims is, making them unverifiable, studies have shown before that there are multiple economic benefits from building cycling infrastructure. This includes increasing retails sales and through reducing congestion, according to a 2020 study from Cycling UK (opens in new tab).
Downey Jr. is not the only Hollywood celebrity to take to two wheels occasionally, with other celebrity cyclists including Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Harrison Ford.
Predictably, replies to his tweet included tropes about cyclists, including skipping traffic lights, and the idea that only drivers pay "road tax". One user wrote: "Bike lanes do rock. As long as the bikers follow the rules of the road. Sadly too many do not. I have seen bikers run red lights and stop signs, causing accidents and then blaming the car drivers."
However, another replied: "As a dude who bikes everywhere, thank you so much lol. My small town in Minnesota is great for biking in a lot of places but once you get into the places where you need to actually buy things, it becomes a nightmare."
Earlier this year, a report from the League of American Bicyclists said that the US trailed Europe in cycling infrastructure. It said: "The United States is 40 years behind peer countries in Europe when it comes to developing bike networks with bike facilities for people of all ages and abilities."
This week, a landmark piece of legislation, a new climate bill, was passed by the US Senate, which allocated $369bn to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions and invest in renewable energy sources. It appears Downey Jr. would appreciate some money going towards cycling too.
Every 1M spent on bike lanes creates 18 more jobs than the same amount for regular auto centric roads…lets “self-propel” our planets future….#bikelanesrock pic.twitter.com/HmW96JbE5JAugust 10, 2022
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Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.
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