Cars are expensive. For cities, they are expensive in the same way that babies are expensive, only worse. They take up much-needed space in parking lots, they cause noise pollution and congestions that result in both wasted man hours and fuel resources. But unlike babies, cars won’t make you break out into spontaneously cute smiles and giggles. And they definitely won’t grow up be productive members of society.
Cars take, and take, and take with no end in sight. As cities in the United Kingdom experience continued population growth, there is a higher demand being made on already limited urban spaces. In the past, more people has meant more cars; cities in the UK and all around the world are looking at sustainable alternative modes of transport as adding cars to strained urban spaces is not viable. Bicycles are cheaper for both the individual cyclist and the city collective. They leave a minimal carbon footprint and their use is associated with numerous other benefits.
Now there is a conscious effort being made by the transport authorities in cities to invest in bicycle infrastructure with good reason. More use of bikes is not only beneficial to the individual, but it is also advantageous to local businesses, residential property values, and the city’s economy as a whole. Here are seven ways in which increased use of bicycles in urban spaces benefits our cities.
Cyclists Boost Local Economies
How far does a cyclist go to buy their groceries? More likely to the corner shop than two towns over. Because cyclists tend to travel shorter distances than people in cars, they also tend to shop local. This is good for businesses because it means a boost in revenues from locals who opt to buy locally.
Having Bike Facilities Directly Impacts Stores’ Sales and Visibility
Another interesting finding that research has uncovered is that there is a positive correlation between stores’ providing secure cycle parking and a better sales performance. Further, the sales generated per cycle parking space is higher than that of per vehicle parking space.
Cycle Paths Raise the Value of Residential Real Estate
An unexpected benefit of having cycling infrastructure is how it impacts residential housing prices. When similar houses in the same neighbourhood, parred for everything including size in square feet, and the number of beds and baths, residential houses nearer to cycle lanes tended to fetch a higher price than those further out.
Cycling Workers are Healthier and More Productive
Research has shown that people who cycle regularly have lower risks of suffering obesity and cardiovascular diseases. When employers participate in initiatives to get their workers to cycle more, they reap the benefits of healthier, more productive workers who take fewer sick days as compared to non-cycling workers. Productivity and creativity have also been positively correlated to physical workouts, hence, the exercise workers get on a cycle commute translates to better output for the employer.
Cycling is a Great Cost-Saving Measure for Cities
Traffic. The gridlocks that are becoming the norm of most major cities are a continuing challenge for urban planning authorities. Gridlocks cost cities millions of pounds in wasted human hours and fuel resources every year. Not only that, but they contribute to air and noise pollution. With more cyclists, traffic congestions can be eased, resulting in fewer lost man-hours, conserved fuel, and significantly less pollution. With fewer vehicles on the road, cities can make more savings because of lower costs of road maintenance. With the added benefits of health gains regular cyclists get, cutting on the cost of healthcare is a long-term gain of investing in cycling infrastructure.
Cities Reap Great Benefits from Investing in Cycling Infrastructure
There is a much-needed bicycle renaissance happening in cities across Europe and most of the world. In the Northern Powerhouse cities of the United Kingdom, several initiatives have been, and are continuously being initiated to encourage cycling amongst the citizenry. Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham have all undertaken various projects to improve cycle routes and people taking up cycling. These include committing funds for construction of dedicated cycle lanes as well as improving the ones already in use; providing free training to those interested in taking up cycling as long as safety awareness to motorists who have to share roads with cyclists; providing secure bike parking and storage in strategic locations such as at the end of public transit line, among other measures. Gradually, these efforts will bear fruit as cities become greener, less-congested and geared towards healthier, happier citizens.