Friday, April 1, 2016

Active Transportation Study: Bike-Friendly Communities in Demand

It is good to see The Washington Post reporting this week on findings from a recently published Urban Land Institute study on active transportation and real estate that focused on a trend in developers building more “trail-oriented” communities to meet a growing demand for bike-friendly and walkable places to live and work. According to the report, the developers are taking advantage of government investments in recreational trails, a shift toward more urban and car-free lifestyles, and demand from people who can’t afford a car or choose to forego driving for health or environmental reasons. Developments profiled in the study, including the nearby The Flats at Bethesda Avenue, offer amenities such as bicycle storage, extra-wide hallways and elevators, bike cleaning stations, bike “valets,” bike-share systems and shower or locker facilities.

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute
FABB hopes Fairfax County developers, property managers, designers, and public officials will take a close look at the ULI report, Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier, and learn from its case studies about supporting and leveraging investments in bike lanes and trails to create real estate value and promote economic, environmental, and public health goals. County homeowners, especially those near the planned improvements for the I-66 Outside-the-Beltway Project, should also note the study’s finding that numerous studies have shown that real estate values increase with proximity to bicycle paths and walking trails.

Other interesting findings in the study include: 
  • U.S. census figures show that bicycle commuting jumped by 62 percent between 2000 and 2014.
  • Economic considerations, such as the high cost of owning, operating, and insuring a car—which averaged nearly $8,700 in the United States in 2015, according to AAA—as well as environmental, social, and health factors, have caused a boom in bicycling. 
  • When cities invest in bicycle infrastructure residents and visitors begin to use bicycles at rates that exceed the national average. 
  • Active transportation infrastructure can catalyze real estate development. Trails, bike lanes, and bicycle-sharing systems can improve pedestrian and bicyclist access to employment centers, recreational destinations, and public transit facilities, thereby enhancing the attractiveness of developments along active transportation corridors. 
  • As bicycling and walking networks have grown, so have active transportation–oriented developments and bike-friendly businesses. The bicycle industry sold over $6 billion worth of bikes and equipment in 2014, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. 
  • More people ride bikes than play golf or ski and bicycle-friendly communities are finding that bike trails and other active transportation infrastructure encourage visitors to stay longer, spend more, and come back more often. 
  • In addition, bicycle infrastructure can help tourism-oriented communities maximize the benefits of tourism while minimizing burdens such as traffic congestion. 

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