A new bike lane for a new economy

Protected_Bike_LaneU.S. cities are discovering an unexpected tool to create new economic opportunities: the protected bike lane.

The conventional bike lane is getting a makeover in American cities. No longer relying on just a few inches of white paint to give people on bikes a feeling of security and comfort on busy streets, modern protected bike lanes use curbs, planters, parked cars or simple posts to clearly separate bikes from auto traffic and sidewalks. They are proving effective in creating appealing places for everyone, but are especially inviting to new riders.

Four ways protected bike lanes boost economic growth:

  • Fueling redevelopment to boost real estate value – As city populations grow, motor vehicle congestion increases. New roads are rarely an option in mature cities. Protected bike lanes bring order and predictability to streets and provide transportation choices while helping to build neighborhoods where everyone enjoys spending time. By extending the geographic range of travel, bike lanes help neighborhoods redevelop more quickly than waiting years for new transit service to debut.
  • Helping companies score talented workers – Savvy workers, especially Millennials and members of Generation X, increasingly prefer downtown jobs and nearby homes. Because protected bike lanes make biking more comfortable and popular, they help companies locate downtown without breaking the bank on auto parking space, and allow workers to reach their desk the way they increasingly prefer: under their own power.
  • Making workers healthier and more productive – From DC to Chicago to Portland, the story is the same: people go out of their way to use protected bike lanes. By creating clear delineation between auto and bike traffic, protected bike lanes get more people in the saddle – burning calories, clearing minds, and strengthening hearts and lungs. As companies scramble to lower health care costs, employees who benefit from the gentle exercise of pedaling to work help boost overall hourly productivity and cut bills.
  • Increasing retail visibility and sales volume – In growing urban communities, protected bike lane networks encourage more people to ride bikes for everyday trips. And when people use bikes for errands, they’re the ideal kind of retail customers: regulars. They stop by often and spend as much or more per month as people who arrive in cars. Plus, ten customers who arrive by bike fit in the parking space of one customer who arrives by car.

For more information, visit the Alliance for Walking and Biking.

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