Monday, October 15, 2012

Bicycling is Good for the Economy...still

It seems that there is a growing understanding of the obvious benefits of bicycle advocacy and urban design as it relates to the economy, as I'm picking up more and more articles that are recognizing that when you make infrastructure friendlier of bicyclists and pedestrians, local businesses reap the benefits. And, of course, that reaps benefits for the local government and the quality of life for citizens in urban areas. Planetizen posted this article and it may be one of the longer pieces breaking down the benefits that people are recognizing around the country as they increase their commitment to what I will call human friendly transport.

Two quick things to note about this ongoing discussion regarding the benefits of cycling to a community are that the more people tend to deemphasize the automobile in their lives, the more discretionary income they are likely to have, by virtue of not paying for $4.00 plus gasoline.   And, to bring this point home to Reno, as I look at the positives and negatives of the investment in the growing Midtown District (in which I live) you can see that ease of getting around by foot or by bicycle in the area provides a direct benefit to those businesses.  It would be nice if the city made a very direct and obvious commitment to putting in thematically linked bicycle racks throughout the neighborhood and did a better job of slowing the traffic along the busy Virginia Street spine that intersects the area so that it feels safer to cross the street.
You can see that in a vibrant business district that there’s a lot of foot traffic and bicycle traffic, and you instinctively understand that it’s really good for business. But you need these numbers to have credibility when you are making the case." 
Bike infrastructure has also been associated with favorable levels of job creation compared to other forms of transport. A study last year by Heidi Garrett-Peltier at the Political Economy Research Institute, looking at 58 separate projects, found that $1 million invested in bike infrastructure produced 11.4 jobs, against 10 jobs for the same amount invested in pedestrian schemes, and 7.8 jobs for road-only projects.  [Emphasis Mine]
More here.

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

Good article. Two points to add...

The better the infrastructure at keeping cars and bikes/pedestrians apart, the more muscle powered traffic you get.

Convincing a city of the economic benefits is key. Sometimes you see a city put in infrastructure on a 'we'll do it as we don't want liability suits for injured cyclists/pedestrians'..and the infrastructure winds up sub-par.

Make the intrastructure safe, attractive and easy to navigate and the muscle powered traffic can really pick up.

Where in the midtown Reno area are the improvements being made? Down in the middle of town by the Biggest Little City sign on Virginia? I'm over in Carson City and a friend and I have been talking about cruising around in Reno one weekday and see what changes are being made.