The Business Case for Bike Lanes

Many cities are adding more bike lanes throughout their transportation networks to accommodate a growing population of multimodal residents


What Happened?

Many cities are adding more bike lanes throughout their transportation networks to accommodate a growing population of multimodal residents. But these municipalities are learning the addition of bike lanes can play a key role in economic growth as well as diversity transportation options.

Cycling Customers

After adding bike lanes and other cyclist infrastructure to key neighborhoods in major cities, many local businesses report a significant uptick in business and profits, Momentum Mag reported. For example:

  • In New York City a Transportation Alternatives study of the Lower East Side revealed only 4 percent of customers to local businesses arrived via car compared to 23 percent showing up on bicycles
  • In the city center of Utrecht in the Netherlands, researchers discovered 26 percent of customers navigated the city via bicycle versus 17 percent in cars
  • The East End of Vancouver, BC, found 24 percent more of local patrons shopped on bicycles than drove to stores
  • Portland, Oregon, researchers learned cycling customers spent $75.66 per month at bars, restaurants and convenience stores compared to car-driving customers who spent $68.56

To explain these findings, researchers in Muenster, Germany, theorized shoppers on bicycles make smaller purchases when they go to a store, and therefore must shop more often. Therefore, it may be in the best interest of cities and local businesses to support bike-friendly amenities and even offer discounts to cycling customers.

Bike-Friendly Funding Pool

The Maryland Department of Transportation is considering the creation of a $15 million funding pool to support bicycle and pedestrian path projects statewide. The Maryland DOT and State Highway Administration have outlined five grant programs that will be available through the funding initiative that will support multimodal alternative transportation projects including:

  • Bike lanes
  • Rails to trails projects
  • Connecting pedestrian paths to major roadways

The goal is to help local communities acquire the funding necessary to launch and complete pedestrian-focused projects that tight budgets may have put on hold, Frederick News Post reported.

Pedestrian Trail Grant

Hoover, Alabama, is currently seeking a grant to support a $500,000 trails project that will provide a new route for bicyclists, pedestrians and recreational activities. The Hoover City Council applied for a $400,000 grant from the Birmingham Metropolitan Planning Organization that will require a 20 percent match from the city, Hoover Sun reported.

The proposed Cahaba-Riverchase Grandview Greenway Trailhead project calls for the construction of an off-road trial for pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorized transportation. The trail would also connect pedestrians and cyclists to a Cahaba Blueway canoe launch site in the future, Hoover Sun reported.

The overall goal is to make it easier for visitors and residents to enjoy the community’s green space and local businesses while supporting a more bike-friendly population. Looking ahead, the trailhead project would be the first step to a multi-mile greenway along the local riverfront that would connect several communities, Hoover Sun reported.

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