We at Strong Towns have been in favor of better bike and walk infrastructure from the beginning. We know that bike and walk friendly towns have a greater chance of being economically viable because this sort of environment encourages business success, and shifts towns away from the extensive construction and maintenance costs of roads for cars.
A recent article by Scott Lane on the Stantec blog entitled, "Show me the money: Why complete streets make economic sense" dives into these economic benefits of biking with hard facts and the data to back it up.
Lane writes, "Cycling alone contributes an estimated $133 billion annually to the U.S. economy, supporting 1.1 million jobs and generating nearly $18 billion in tax revenues."
Biking is so often framed as something people do for exercise or leisure, but this data shows biking has value and purpose far beyond that.
The economic impacts of biking can be measured in several ways. One is property values. Lane explains:
A study from Minnesota suggests that property values increase because of trails: 70% of real estate agents surveyed use trails as selling points for homes, and over 80% thought that they would make a home easier to sell. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail has seen property values within a block of this eight-mile urban trail increase by 148% since it opened in 2008. (Notice how we don’t have to mention bike-walk icons like Portland or Boulder even once to demonstrate this point?)
Biking also generates revenue for many businesses outside the cycling industry including hospitality, commercial and more. Of course, biking also offers enormous economic benefits in the money saved by choosing to bike instead of drive--both for individuals and for towns as a whole.
As Lane states: "These benefits are hard to ignore, especially in an era when many people and communities are striving to save money, reinvent themselves economically, get older without fearing a loss of mobility, and improve their health."
(All photos courtesy of Green Lane Project)