It’s easy to see that we’re living in a changing country.
The economy is slowly bouncing back after the biggest slowdown since the Great Depression. For the first time in two generations, Americans are moving to cities in record numbers. And during all this, more and more people are expressing a preference for living in places where bicycling is easy and comfortable.
City leaders and business leaders alike are taking note. And, in responding to these trends, they 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, 15 entrepreneurs and business leaders from major U.S. cities explain how protected bike lanes — on-street lanes that are physically separated from automobile traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts — has 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. Check it out:
1. Americans — especially young people — are driving less and biking more.
Employers say their headhunters get a competitive edge by locating in areas with great biking networks, so savvy companies are locating near protected bike lanes to attract and keep Millennials and Gen-Xers. Learn more.
2. Americans are flocking to urban areas, congesting city streets and creating market demand for solutions that increase street flow without adding gridlock.
The demand for great bike networks is nicely illustrated in the housing markets near protected bike lanes. Studies show that homes near bicycle infrastructure appreciate in value more than equivalent houses away from bike lanes. Learn more.
3. With health care costs at an all-time high, companies are scrambling to get more employees exercising regularly.
Newsflash: healthcare is expensive. Companies benefit when more employees find it pleasant to bike to the office, because workers who exercise regularly are less expensive to insure. Learn more.
4. In shopping districts, the most valuable customers are those who stop by often.
People who shop by bike tend to buy less in a single visit, but stop by more often. When space is at a high premium, these regulars make for great customers. Learn more.
Mary Lauran is communications director for the Alliance for Biking and Walking. Previously, she worked to raise the profile of walking and bicycling in the federal transportation system with America Bikes. She has a background in online strategy, social media management, and civic engagement. Mary Lauran earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where she hosted a radio show on science. Mary Lauran also volunteers with The Bike House, Washington, DC’s bicycle repair cooperative. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.