(From The Active Transportation Alliance)
As the economy rebounds and Americans flock to cities, companies find physically protected bike lanes benefit real estate, talent retention, health costs, retail vitality
Entrepreneurs and city leaders in Chicago and across the country have discovered an unexpected tool to create opportunities in growing downtown economies: the protected bike lane.
In a new report from PeopleForBikes and the Alliance for Biking & Walking, http://bit.ly/PBLSMeanBiz entrepreneurs and business leaders from major U.S. cities explain how protected bike lanes â€” on-street lanes that are physically separated from automobile traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts â€” have meant big benefits for their companies.
The report combines this original reporting with an overview of the latest academic and technical research to find changes associated with four mega-trends:
- Companies scramble to attract the most skilled Millennials and Gen X-ers, who increasingly prefer downtown jobs and commutes that donâ€™t involve a car. Working in a city with comfortable bike lanes is so important to Jeff Judge that when his Chicago business was considering a relocation, his first bit of research was the bike lane network near his potential new headquarters. Judge recently weighed moving his marketing startup, Signal, from Chicago to Boston when a Massachusetts-based company approached him about acquisition. â€œThe first thing I looked at was what the bike infrastructure is like in Boston,â€ said Judge. â€œItâ€™s so important to me. … Cities that invest in biking infrastructure are going to win. Itâ€™s better for business. Itâ€™s better for planning. Itâ€™s better for infrastructure. Itâ€™s better all around.â€ â€œWeâ€™re close to many protected bike lanes downtown,â€ explained Judge, who rides in Chicagoâ€™s new protected bike lanes on his commute to work. â€œFor me and for my employees, it makes a big difference.â€
- Americans are flocking to urban areas, congesting city streets. By making biking appeal to more people, protected lanes increase access to fast-developing neighborhoods without the negative impact of additional auto traffic.Studies show that homes near bicycle infrastructure appreciate in value more than equivalent houses away from bike lanes. In Indianapolis, proximity to a bike route increases your home price by an average of 11%.
- With health care costs at an all-time high, companies are scrambling to encourage active living. As Cheryl Zalenski was working her way up the ranks of her career in Chicago, she would go to a gym every evening after work. But as she advanced, the time was harder to fit in. The answer for her schedule, Zalenski found, was a tool sheâ€™d lost track of after college: the bicycle. â€œHaving that time to recharge your brain gives you more creative energy and allows you to come up with ideas that you wouldnâ€™t have while sitting and staring at the computer,â€ said Zalenski, a middle manager at the American Bar Associationâ€™s Chicago headquarters. Sheâ€™s certain that bike commuting makes her better at her job, and that Chicagoâ€™s fully signalized and protected bike lane on Dearborn Street, one of her frequent routes, makes the street better for bikes and cars alike.
- In urban shopping districts where space is at a high premium, the most lucrative customers are those who stop by often and have a small parking footprint. Increasingly, shop owners are looking for ways to encourage biking.Studies in California, Oregon, Ontario, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland all found that people who arrive to a shop by bike spend less per visit but return more often, resulting in similar overall spending per month but far lower parking needs. In a Melbourne study, each square foot of auto parking generated 19 cents in retail revenue, while a square foot of bike parking led to 69 cents.
â€œThese data and testimonials from business leaders make it very clear that, as a nation, we need to prioritize investments in 21st century transportation networks where bicycling plays a key role,â€ said Jeffrey Miller, President / CEO of the Alliance for Biking & Walking. â€œThis is an especially timely finding given that Congress is beginning work on a new federal transportation bill. Protected bike lanes help businesses thrive â€” in todayâ€™s world and in the context of our nationâ€™s shifting demographics.â€
â€œMore and more communities across the country are investing in protected bike lanes â€” and for good reason. These lanes are part of the solution to getting small and large businesses back on their feet,â€ said Martha Roskowski, PeopleForBikes vice president of local innovation. â€œJust in the past two years, weâ€™ve seen the total mileage of protected bike lanes in the U.S. nearly double, and we expect this growth to continue.â€
See the full report online here: http://bit.ly/PBLSMeanBiz
PeopleForBikes is leading the movement to improve bicycling in America â€” and to improve America through bicycling. The PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project works closely with cities to build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.
Alliance for Biking & Walking is the North American coalition of over 200 state and local bicycling and walking advocacy organizations. The Alliance creates, strengthens and unites leaders who are transforming communities into great places to bike and walk.
The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. The organization builds a movement around active transportation, encourages physical activity, increases safety and builds a world-class transportation network. Formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the Active Transportation Alliance is supported by more than 7,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 35 full-time staff. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.