The Role Protected Bike Lanes Play in Economic Development
By Alex Cimring
Given all the research which has been done in large, medium and small sized cities it is clear that when protected bike lanes are installed along major streets the amount of retail trade increases. Bicyclists stop and buy goods; motor vehicle drivers see the store fronts easier and go to parking garages or side street parking and then wander around as pedestrians going into stores to purchase things.
Bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers both have views of store fronts and shop display windows. For bicyclists, however, it is easier to stop, secure their bicycles, and enter the store to make purchases. Motor vehicle drivers, after briefly seeing the retail store front/window, then must find parking in nearby parking garages or side streets before entering a retail establishment to make a purchase. After making purchases, both bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers/passengers then wander around the retail area as pedestrians going into various stores to purchase things. Because bicyclists are more likely to stop due to convenience, they are more likely to become such pedestrians, making more purchases and participating in the development of the local economy.
The more excellent bicycling infrastructure our municipalities have, the higher our “New York State Bicycle Friendly” designation will be. What’s more is that more visitors from outside of the Empire State will come here to partake of our attributes (abundant water supply; low commercial rents; low housing costs for employees; easy access to outdoor activities (kayaking, our park system); easy access to farms and farmers’ markets). Perhaps these visitors will be enticed to establish or move businesses to New York State.
Protected bicycle lanes along the major roads of villages, towns, and cities in New York State is an easy, inexpensive way to encourage economic development. Workers, commuters, visitors, business people, business owners, planners, recreational bicyclists will shout hurrah when they use them and see this 21st century infrastructure accoutrement!