Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Economic Case for Bike, Walk, & Transit

Former Alexandria Small Business Facilitator Tom Fairchild makes the case for positive economic impacts of bike, pedestrian and transit facilities in a post at Arlington's Mobility Lab ("Bike, Walk, and Transit Mean Business"):
“Bikes Mean Business” was the theme of the just-wrapped National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. And on the heels of the highly successful summit, two of the world’s biggest business centers have released plans to spark huge growth in cycling.
The highlights, as noted by Streetsblog, include:
  • Businesses along Fordham Road in the Bronx got a 73 percent boost in retail sales (compared to 23 percent borough-wide) when Select Bus Service was added. 
  • One of the first stretches of protected bike lane added in New York City – on Ninth Avenue between 23rd and 31st streets (see the graphic below) – retail sales increased 49 percent, compared to a 3 percent increase throughout Manhattan.
  • Since a major expansion of pedestrian space on the north end of Union Square, commercial vacancies have dropped 49 percent, at the same time that they have risen 5 percent borough-wide.
  • Since creating Brooklyn’s pedestrianized Pearl Street plaza, retail sales increased 172 percent compared to 18 percent borough-wide.

This morning the Washington Area Bicyclist Association issued an "Action Alert" on their website and in emails to its members. The alert is asking for support of the City Manager-proposed bicycle and pedestrian expenditures that have been presented to City Council for approval as part of this year's budget. Critics have been complaining about these expenditures at City Council hearings and in letters to the editor.

The Arlandrian reported on these proposals here (which was essentially re-reported a post by the The WashCycle blog.)

Here's what WABA's message says:

Dear Supporter, 
Good afternoon. This is a request for action. There are a number of positive developments for bicycling and walking in the proposed Alexandria budget, but they won't stay in the budget unless we speak up!  
There is an excellent summary in the Arlandria blog
Key elements are: the expansion of Capital Bikeshare, Trail improvements, the update of the Bicycle Master Plan, and funding for Complete Streets. We are cautiously optimistic that the last two items will get us something we don't have much of: bike lanes that will appeal to non-experts who simply want to ride bicycles in their neighborhoods.
To tell the Mayor and City Council you want these elements to be funded, CLICK HERE and share your thoughts. 
You can use the language below as an example, or just copy and paste it if you prefer. 
Thank you for taking action to fund better biking in Alexandria!
WABA and Jonathan Krall, Alexandria Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee

Sample Letter:

Dear Mayor and Council,

I am a resident of Alexandria and I am writing to support the Bicycle and Pedestrian elements in the proposed budget. I am particularly concerned that:

- Capital Bikeshare is a great program that moves people less expensively than any other public transit system, but it has only eight stations in Alexandria. We need to build it up to reach potential customers outside of Old Town. Bikeshare has proven that it can operate at no net operating cost if it is built up properly.

- Getting people out of cars and into bike lanes frees up space on the road for people who wish to drive and gets bicycles out of the way of cars. This is a good idea.

- Compared with Arlington and DC, Alexandria has very few bike lanes. I have friends who tell me they simply won't ride in Alexandria until we have safer bikeways. This is not a big expense, but it will make a big difference.

- I ride often in Alexandria and am healthier as a result. We need to make healthy exercise easier and more accessible for more of our citizens.

- I support transit and know that it is quicker to get to my transit stop on a bicycle. Other Alexandrians know it too. In fact, WMATA has stated that Braddock Road is the Metro station with the most parked bicycles.

- I am concerned that new developments, such as Potomac Yard, are being built without bike lanes. 

That the bike lanes on Potomac Avenue end on the Arlington side of the border does not speak well to our commitment to quality of life.

Thank you for your time and attention.


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