Installing bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard is the green thing to do. We’re not just talking about reducing carbon emissions in the environment and trying to put a lid on climate change. Bike lanes bring in money. They’re good for the city, they’re good for businesses, and they’re good for taxpayers. Here’s why:
- Protected bike lanes increase the number of cyclists/shoppers. Neighborhoods that are built to help pedestrians and cyclists get around are cleaner, safer and more attractive. That translates into more customers, which increases retail visibility and sales volume.
Years ago when San Francisco installed two bike lanes on Valencia Street, 65% of merchants stated that the lanes had a positive impact on their business. Of those surveyed, 35% reported an increase in sales due to bike lanes. The Department of Transportation in New York analyzed the retail activity around protected bike lanes and found “an increase of as much as 49% in retail sales at locally based businesses.”
- Bicyclists have more disposable income. Bicyclists tend to save 75% more than car owners annually, according to the American Automobile Association. Since bike lanes attract more bikers, this means more people will have more discretionary income to spend. And studies have shown that it is cyclists and pedestrians who tend to visit local businesses more often and in higher numbers. Plus, they spend more per month.
- Bike lanes increase property value. Homes and businesses located adjacent to or near active transportation networks have higher property values and sell quickly. As this comprehensive report states: “It’s an iron law of real estate. Land is more valuable if more people can get to it easily.”
- Bike lanes lower healthcare costs. Research shows that obesity rates are higher in neighborhoods that have fewer bike lanes and paths. Both here and abroad, areas that have widespread bike infrastructure and high cycling and walking rates also have extremely low obesity rates. It’s really just common sense.
- Bike lanes save the city money. It helps lower the city’s infrastructure spending. It costs more to maintain roadways and sidewalks than it does bike lanes. Dutch bicycle planning experts calculated that the economic value of installing bike networks is 7.3 times greater than the costs. Simply put, bike lanes pay for themselves.
Look at the bigger picture. Why are some people fighting so hard against progress, marred by old habits and terrified of change? All the research and various studies show that there’s a developing consensus among American cities nationwide: Bike lanes are smart investments for our communities.