Heavy trucks obviously cause more road damage than cars, but how much more? According to a GAO study, Excessive Truck Weight: An Expensive Burden We Can No Longer Afford, road damage from one 18-wheeler is equivalent to 9600 cars (p.23 of study, p.36 of PDF).
The study assumed a fully loaded tractor-trailer at 80,000 pounds, and a typical passenger car at 4,000 pounds. That’s 20 times difference in weight, but the wear and tear caused by the truck is exponentially greater.
Food for thought: a bicycle and rider at 200 pounds is the same 20 times less heavy than a 4000 pound passenger car. Similarly, the wear and tear caused by that bike and rider would be exponentially less than a passenger car’s.
Virginia has already figured out that it’s cheaper to move trucks off our highways and onto trains, than to support those trucks on our roads. Let’s also think about getting motorists out of their cars. Wide shoulders, wide outer lanes and bike lanes, and off-road paths and trails for bicyclists may seem like extra expense, but they’re cheaper than supporting the car trips they can eliminate.