Most of us are well aware of the benefits of bicycling for our health and the environment, but did you know that bicycling has powerful economic benefits too? There’s a mountain of data showing how bikes contribute to a thriving local and regional economy; here are just a few highlights.
Bicycle tourism generates hundreds of millions more nationwide
- The American Bicyclists estimates that bicycling related activities contribute $133 billion to our national economy, support over 1 million jobs, and bring in nearly $18 billion in tax revenue.
- People who ride travel to other places to ride them. This means that bike riders buy food, beer, coffee, clothing, hotel rooms, park permits—the list goes on.
Investing in bike-friendly streets, parks and businesses has a BIG payoff
This is not a coincidence. Bike infrastructure is a good investment.
- When Memphis, TN commissioned “temporary” bike lanes on Broad Avenue in 2010, bike-riding—and business activity—shot up practically overnight, and revenues have grown about 30% per year for businesses on this road ever since. Look at a case study for any major U.S. city that’s invested in bike infrastructure and you’ll see similar results.
Bicycling saves communities money and creates jobs
- Building bike lanes is far cheaper than building highways. It costs about $60,000,000 to build a mile of urban freeway, but on average less than $250,000 to build a mile of bike lane—that’s 240% less taxpayer money spent.
- Meanwhile, a Political Economy Research Institute study showed that bike infrastructure projects create over 30% more jobs than road-only projects.
Bike lanes and sidewalks increase property values
- A report by the Urban Land Institute shows that houses in areas deemed to have above-average bike and pedestrian infrastructure were worth $34,000 more than comparable houses in areas with only average walkability/bikability.
- Real estate investors take note: Learn to use the words “bike premium.” Property owners near protected bike lanes and greenways get the bike premium added to their property value, and property owners without access to those pieces of infrastructure lose the value of the bike premium. The Atlanta Beltline project is one of many direct examples of the bike premium increasing property values and increasing the tax base of a city.
Bike lanes allow people to have lower medical bills and live longer
- Cities with good biking and walking infrastructure have healthier residents and lower health care expenses. This increases the spending power of those residents, because they are not forced by poor health to spend their own scarce resources on expensive health care items.
- One study found that for every $1300 New York City spent on bike lanes, all city residents gained the equivalent of one full year of life at full health.