According to a new study released by Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center in Oregon, bicycle lanes and infrastructure can produce tangible economic benefits for cities.
The National Street Improvements Study, conducted by PSU in conjunction with PeopleForBikes and consulting firm Bennett Midland and funded in part by The Summit Foundation, researched the economic effects of bicycle infrastructure on 14 corridors across six cities — Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Memphis, Minneapolis and Indianapolis. The study found that improvements such as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure had either positive or non-significant impacts on the local economy as measured through sales and employment.
For example, in 2012, bike lanes were installed on Central Avenue in Minneapolis by reducing the width of the travel lane and removing parking lanes. Retail employment increased by 12.64% — significantly higher than the 8.54% increase calculated in the control study area a few blocks away. The same corridor also recorded a dramatic 52.44% increase in food sales, which more than doubled the 22.46% increase in the control area. A protected bike lane along Broadway in Seattle that was completed in 2014 was accompanied by a significant 30.78% increase in food service employment compared to 2.49% and 16.17% increases in control areas.
“This study is an important resource to help cities make the case for building more bicycle infrastructure,” said Zoe Kircos, PeopleForBikes’ director of Grants and Partnerships. “PeopleForBikes knows that connected networks are key to encouraging more people to ride, and now the data shows that economic vitality often follows those investments. We’ll share these case studies far and wide, and encourage other communities to use this economic assessment guide to calculate the economic benefits of bike lanes on their own streets.”
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