Raise Your Hand If You Like Economic Development

More walking and bicycling infrastructure will STRENGTHEN our LOCAL ECONOMY. And that’s not just a good thing. It’s a GREAT thing!

Business Activity

Studies show that walking and bicycling infrastructure promote economic development and business activity. Here are just a few examples:

  • Outer Banks, North Carolina:  2004 Study of the Outer Banks in North Carolina commissioned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation[1] found that the $6.7 million in public funds spent to add wide paved shoulders to roads in the region and to construct off-road paths generated an estimated $60 million annuallyIn other words, for every $1 dollar invested in bike infrastructure, that community generated almost $9 in economic value to the community.
  • Ian Lockwood’s 1998 study (planner for West Palm Beach), “Traffic Calming for Crime Reduction & Neighborhood Revitalization,”[2] found that after traffic calming improvements (including street narrowings, raised intersections, and pedestrian amenities) were made in downtown West Palm Beach,

+  business property values MORE THAN DOUBLED (from 1993 to 1998), from between $10-$40/square foot to between $50-100/square foot,
+  occupancy rate INCREASED from 30% to 80%
+  a public investment of $10 million led to private investment of $350 million in the area
+  motor vehicle traffic volumes were maintained at the same level.
+  restaurants were busy and more were opening.

  • Emily Drennan’s study (2003) (San Francisco St. U.) “Economic Effects of Traffic Calming on Urban Small Business,”[3] surveyed small business owners/merchants on the effect of bicycle lanes on Valencia Street in the Mission District in San Francisco, and 65% said that bike lanes had a generally positive impact on business and/or sales, and they would support more traffic calming on the street.

Property Values Increase

Numerous studies cited in the Hike and Bike plan (Chapter 1, p. 1-7) show that bikeways and walking paths are associated with HIGHER PROPERTY VALUES. These studies include:

+American Planning Association (“How Cities Use Parks for Economic Development” 2002)

+Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (“Economic Benefits of Trails and Greenways” 2005)

+Trust for Public Land (“Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space,” 1999)    (Chap. 1, p. 1-7).

+A study in the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration found that in comparing identical houses in an area, homes closer to bike trails had 11 percent higher value than those further from bike trails. [4]

+In a survey published in 2002 by the National Association of Home Realtors and National Association of Home Builders, trails ranked as the 2nd most important amenity out of 18 choices.

Savings to Residents Keeps Money in the Local Economy


Yearly Bicycle Operating Costs: $120/year  
Yearly Car Operating Costs: $7,800/year[5]


HIGH GAS PRICES make bicycling an even better option to reduce household expenses!

This frees up household income that can be spent in small businesses in Arlington!

The COST of the PLANS, especially the on-street bicycling portion, is AFFORDABLE:

  • The Hike and Bike plan identifies some Top Priority projects, in Appendix C of the plan, estimated to cost around $16 million.
  • But note that the on-street bikeway portion of that cost is ONLY about 1.7% of the cost of all the hike and bike projects (around $278,669, spread out over 3 years, or, $92,890 per year).
  • The priority ON-STREET BIKING PROJECTS annual cost represent only around 0.5% of the FY 2011 Streets Budget ($18,959,844)[6]
  • $12.173 million of the $16 million is for off-road greenway/linear park projects not on city streets. These are the projects that opponents say they support[7] (and we thank them for their support!) and these projects are the bulk of the expense.  They can be funded by linear park fees.
  • Sidewalks account for the remaining cost:  $3.551 million.
  • No road maintenance funds will be used for these projects.


Top Priority projects were chosen based on their LOW COST and effectiveness:

  • connecting existing facilities, serving the underserved, improving safety where needed, and pursuing lowest cost facilities first.[8]
  • areas closest to schools, greenways, and places people need to go are high on list.Filling in gaps in the existing sidewalk network
  • routes where existing right of way is adequate and work involves painting stripes or restriping or road diet, not new construction.


  • BIKE IMPROVEMENTS ARE NOT BEING BUILT FROM SCRATCH.  THERE IS NO “RETROFITTING” OF EXISTING ROADS. Bicycle-related improvements would be scheduled as part of already scheduled roadway maintenance and restriping projects. [9]

[1] North Carolina Department of Transportation, Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, “Pathways to Prosperity:  The Economic Impact of Investments in Bicycle Facilities, A Case Study of the North Carolina Northern Outer Banks, http://www.ncdot.gov/bikeped/researchreports/ and  http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/NCbikeinvest.pdf July 2004.

[4] (Lindsey et al., “Property Values, Recreation Values, and Urban Greenways,” Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, vol. 22(3), pp. 69-90), Fall 2004.

[5] Hike and Bike Plan, Chapter 1, page 1-5.

[7] S.O.S. Arlington Update #19, Posted December 8, 2010.

[8] Hike and Bike Plan, Executive Summary, page 9.

[9] Hike and Bike Plan, Chap 1, p.1-3;  p. 7-3.  See Appendix B and C for Top Priority Projects.


  1. I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!

  1. 1 Arlington’s Hike & Bike Master Plan Built to Completion « Bike Friendly Arlington

    […] over the past 20 years. “When the plan was first adopted, the City knew that it was an engine for economic development and it would give Arlington a competitive advantage over other bike friendly cities in the […]

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    Bike Denton