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Cycling is Green...The Impact is Real!


As I look out my home office window, I see a crane moving back and forth assisting the construction of another building in the midst of its new birth. Progress you say? A sign of a better local economy you say? As long as this new building is using its share green resources in the construction I say definitely!

What I am more focused on at the minute is the new road construction that is also taking place outside my home office. No doubt in part, it is a road widening in order to accommodate the new influx for cars coming and going from this new building in the future. What I am certainly pleased to see is a nice bike lane included in the new roadway. Bike lanes are green. Green is good.
Even though this big new building could be a sign of a better economy, what’s also important is that we take note of the increasing demand for bike lanes. Since 2006, many local commuters have turned to riding bikes in order to get from Point A to Point B.  This is not to mention the health benefits you get from cycling, more on that later.

Since 2006, there has been a steady increase in the need for bike lanes. Whether it is for commuting needs or fitness, the demand is there. Either way, the more cyclists we see the less dependency on oil and gas. You see where this is going.

Most new roadway construction sights now include plans for bike lanes.  All over the US, new bike lanes and paths are “the new thing”, more than what they do for commuting and exercise, they aid cities in their push for more green operations and they certainly trim the fat off budgets. That is simply because adding bike lanes is far less costly than building new roads. Not to mention the impact it has on the taxpayer’s wallet and the environmental plus.

Another great value to adding more bike lanes is that recently, a not for profit organization by the name of League of American Bicyclists reported that real estate values increase when bike paths are present and near by. States such as California (which is no real surprise) show that homes near bike trails and lanes command a premium upwards of 10 percent.

Now there is a slight difference in a bike trail and a bike lane. Trails are primarily used as recreational and lanes are more business minded. However, the slight difference is diminishing day by day as cyclists are taking to trails for commuting too. Many urban bike trails are in fact old railway lines that are no longer in operation. Just as the old railway was designed to go from Point A to Point B, so are the trails that are now operating in their place. This is a greener version of a highway indeed.

If you take a look at cycling New York City, you learn that bicycling is without a doubt the fastest growing method of transportation. In York City, a 2006 citywide directive led to the addition and development of approximately 200 miles of new bike lanes and paths. Additionally, the area around Madison Square in midtown is now bike-friendly. In that area alone, seven blocks of the very busy Broadway now host actual “green painted” bike lanes between the curb and the parking lane to provide cyclists with a safeguard against power-driven traffic.

Several other cities and states such as Tennessee, Portland (Oregon), Davis (California), and many more, have gone the extra mile to make a greener impact on bicycle travel.

Central Tennessee developed a motivated plan to add nearly one thousand miles of bike paths and lanes. Portland, Oregon, well-known for its environmental policies, has set aside more then $20 million in recent years for bicycle transportation improvements, and further plans to spend $24 million more in order to improve its system of bike paths and trails.

In Davis, voted the number one US cycling city, by the League of American Bicyclists, bikes actually outnumber automobiles. Bike paths occupy 95% of arterial and collector roads in the Northern California city. 14% of all commuters in Davis commute to work by cycling. This is a staggering 35 times the national average. California bike trails are by far some of the most advanced and developed you’ll find. Additional cities in the League's Top 10 include two other California cities (again no surprise) Palo Alto and San Francisco. Besides Portland, two other Oregon cities received top billing – Corvallis and Eugene. In Colorado, Boulder made the list. Rounding out the top list is Tucson, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; and Madison, Wisconsin.

What’s more, cities like Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles, have printed maps of bicycle routes and lanes for cyclists to refer to just like a road map for automobiles. Seattle Bike trails are some of the most amazing and well-constructed you’ll find.

Google Maps has also been a huge bonus to cyclists across the US seeking out the safest and shortest routes available to them. In Google Maps, it’s a simple click on a bicycle icon when getting directions. I will certainly be on the lookout for the Google Map update on the road outside my house to see the bicycle icon in the months to come! Be sure to check out maps such as Seattle bike trails and California bike trails and you will see the possibilities.

Author: Amy Wermuth