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Bike friendly cities reap benefitsCycling: It’s good for the body, good for the environment and, according to research, good for the community, too. According to Bikenomics: How Cycling Can Save the Economy, bike-friendly communities “save money, boost revenues and help the economy broadly and locally.”

What’s more, people like biking. According to a Statistics Canada survey, cyclists say they would definitely prefer to bike to work than drive, if the conditions are right. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And the way involves becoming more bike friendly.

The benefits of being bike friendly

Whether your residents bike for fun, to lessen commute time or to better the environment, communities are seeing these benefits:

  • Job creation: Biking creates jobs. Those who ride bikes support not only the bicycle industry, but also tourism, retail, and road construction.
  • Tourism: Cyclists are more likely than drivers to stop and spend money while traveling through your community. They also spend more and stay longer.
  • Lower health costs: An investment in bike friendliness is an investment in your community’s health. Biking promotes daily exercise, can reduce health-care claims and boosts workplace productivity.
  • Less congestion: Cycles take up less space than cars, which helps ease congestion. The cost to park a bike is also significantly less—a typical parking space costs businesses $15,000 to $25,000, whereas a bike rack costs between $150 and $200.

Being bike friendly

Now that you know just how much biking can contribute to your community’s health—both physical and economic—check out these ways to increase bike friendliness:

  • Bike lanes: Dedicated bike lanes keep cyclists safe, and their presence can have a significant impact on ridership. One recent study found that adding protected bike lanes increased bike traffic an average of 75 percent.Survey your community to assess its biking behaviour and attitudes about bike lanes. Ask where residents are most likely to ride. Where are the greatest needs for dedicated bike lanes? Would an off-road path be preferable to a dedicated bike lane? These and other questions can get you pedalling in the right direction. You can reward participants for feedback with prize draws for biking-inspired gifts—Hydration Backpacks, bike lights or Bicycle Repair Kits make nice choices.
  • Bike racks: Providing cyclists with a secure place to park their bikes is a great way to promote biking. Some agencies have programs in place that allow citizens or businesses to request racks. If you implement your own, spread the word so area bikers can find existing racks or request new ones. Imprint contact info or a link to your site on existing bike racks or giveaways, such as Fandanas or Bicycle Seat Covers, that can be distributed at bike shops and other local businesses. 
  • Bike sharing: Access is one of the biggest obstacles to riding. Studies show slightly more than half of community members have a functioning bike available to them. Developing a bike-share program, where riders can “rent” bikes from a network of hubs, removes this barrier. Check out Bixi Montreal or Bike Share for inspiration.
  • Bike challenge:  A good challenge inspires action. Events like Bike Day in Canada encourage bicyclists to make a commitment to ride. As a community, join this event or hold your own. Promote it on your website, in community mailers and on social media. Invite residents to accept the challenge to ride a certain number of days or kilometres per day, week or month. Encourage engagement by asking participants to post photos of their rides. Reward participants with random draws for bike bottles or bike bells.

You can’t go wrong when it comes to promoting cycling in your community. It’s good for the body, good for the soul and good for your community’s bottom line. Will your agency be the next to take the challenge?

Schiller, Ben. “Making The Economic Case For Cycling-Friendly Cities With Bikeonomics.” Co.Exist. N.p., 15 Nov. 2013. Web. Retrieved 18 Feb. 2016.

Rennie, Steve. “National Household Survey: Number of cyclists who commute unchanged from 2006 to 2011.” The Toronto Star. Toronto Star Newspapers, 26 June 2013. Web. Retrieved 23 Feb. 2016.

“Bikes & Bucks: 6 Ways Bicycling Benefits Businesses & Local Economies.” Adventure Cycling Association. N.p., 19 May 2015. Web. Retrieved 18 Feb. 2016.

Andersen, Michael. “The Protected Bike Lane Ridership Bump, City by City (infographic).” People for Bikes. N.p., 03 June 2014. Web. Retrieved 18 Feb. 2016.

“How Bike Paths and Lanes Make a Difference | Bureau of Transportation Statistics.” U.S. Department of Transportation. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 18 Feb. 2016.

“Bike Racks.” Seattle Department of Transportation: Bike Program. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 18 Feb. 2016.

Schmitt, Angie. “Survey: 100 Million Americans Bike Each Year, But Few Make It a Habit.” Streetsblog USA. N.p., 04 Mar. 2015. Web. Retrieved 18 Feb. 2016.

 


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