Sunteți pe pagina 1din 13

Buck 1 Chris Buck Professor Blakelock Eng-2100-91 22 April 2014 Bicycling Infrastructure is Vital to Our Growth Creating urban

landscapes with the thought of bicycling and walking as valid and important forms of transportation will help us create more vibrant, healthier and more economically stable communities. Through creating cities that are navigable on foot or by bike, we will create more foot traffic and less congestion. By creating more foot traffic, people tend to care more about their landscapes and about building their community. Cities transform from a place to go to work, to a place that has an identity of its own. Shops and restaurants certainly see the benefit of creating more walkable and bike able cities, because by creating more foot traffic, there is more opportunity for the potential consumer to be drawn in. By adopting a complete streets mindset when it comes to our city planning, we will be able to create healthier, vibrant places, where people will want to be. Creating a more bicycle friendly environment is largely done by the efforts from the local cycling community. These advocacy groups work to address the concerns of the local cyclists and relay those needs and concerns to the local governments. The formation of advocacy groups, such as Bike Miami Valley in Dayton, OH, is crucial to building momentum in the cycling community. These advocacy groups help to grow the community. They also give an identity to the community and serve as a catalyst to ensure the needs and the wants of the cyclists are met. Within these advocacy groups, ideas are brought forward, those ideas are then visualized and

Buck 2 streamlined to bring to the local governments. In the City of Dayton, Bike Miami Valley, in conjunction with other local government entities as well as city commissioners, has helped to create a cycling master plan with steps on how to make Dayton a more bicycle friendly community. Through these efforts, the city has received a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Status through the League of American Cyclists. The city recognizes the strong economic and social implications of having a top notch cycling network (Williamson and Beerbower). The League of American Cyclists has created a roadmap to help cities become more bicycle friendly. Every year the League assesses applicants for their Bicycle Friendly status. The status can be awarded to cities, businesses and universities. When an entity is labeled as being Bicycle Friendly, the League helps that entity continue to move up to the next level (Bicycle Friendly). The League of American Cyclists also helps to build the cycling community through programs and classes to help create smarter, safer and more aware cyclists on the streets. Classes are taught by League trained volunteers to instruct people how to ride bikes safer and how to perform bicycling maintenance. The League knows that education is a crucial key in helping to build a strong cycling community. The League helps create larger cycling communities through programs, such as National Bike Month. During the month of May, people are encouraged to give cycling a try and to present the many different facets of cycling. Local events are held across the country such as Ride Your Bike to Work Day with a pancake breakfast. This event is held by Five Rivers Metroparks in Dayton in conjunction with other local partners. The event is put on to help showcase the local cycling movement in the Miami Valley (Williamson and Beerbower). The most major and influential event the League of American Cyclists holds is the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. where local advocacy leaders from all over the

Buck 3 country meet to help visualize and put into action a plan for cyclists on a national scale. These advocacy groups also meet with different politicians to have their voices heard by their representatives to Congress. Through this meeting, advocates from all over the United States can share ideas and create a more unified version of what needs to happen to create a more national vision for how bicycles will be incorporated into city planning. Complete streets policies aim to make our roads safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone (National Complete Streets Coalition). Through implementing these policies, we can ensure we are creating cities with all users in mind, not just motor vehicles. Through use of complete street policies, spaces are created for bicyclists to travel in their own lanes. If implemented correctly, complete streets policies will help slow speeding cars and lessen the amount of traffic jams and congestion (National Complete Streets Coalition). Beyond the traffic issues associated with motor-centric planning, there are very real health and safety issues that city planners must consider. In fact, one study stated that 43 percent of people with safe places to walk within 10 minutes of home met recommended activity levels, while just 27% of those without safe places to walk were not active enough (National Complete Streets Coalition). Complete street planning will help us create a culture of healthier individuals. Adopting these policies will help us curb soaring health care costs because of lower rates of obesity and the diseases that go with it (National Complete Streets Coalition). As the research shows, if there are safe areas to walk, more people will be out, walking and biking, and leading healthier lifestyles. Looking at the community as a whole, the air quality will improve, thus helping create a place where people want to be outside, and less pollution means less respiratory issues. It has been proven that poor air quality outside is linked to a spike in asthma and other illnesses (National Complete Streets Coalition). The more areas we create for

Buck 4 cycling and walking, the more area our children will have to be active in. Part of creating a city that is bike able and walk able is to help encourage and to instill in the next generation what makes cities and communities work, and what makes them healthy. Not only do complete streets policies help improve the safety and health of the community, but it also benefits the community in fiscal ways. By using these policies, we can work towards a balanced transportation infrastructure. These policies will help create efficient connections between residences, schools, parks, public transportation, offices, and retail destinations (National Complete Streets Coalition). Early adoption of complete street policies will also help to save money in the long run. It makes more fiscal sense to incorporate the infrastructure for all users in the beginning of planning, rather than going back to add the amenities later. Bicycling is the easiest of all of these amenities to incorporate into street planning. Bike lanes are lanes only for cyclists on our streets. They provide a clear visual of the area where cars are not allowed to drive in. Bike sharrows are also implemented into street planning to create a safe riding environment. Sharrows include a bicycle symbol with two chevrons pointing in the direction of traffic. Sharrows let motorists know that cyclists will be using the same area as them and to be watchful of those on bicycles. Both bike lanes and sharrows are easily painted on the streets and are relatively inexpensive to do so (National Complete Streets Coalition).
Fig. 2. Bike Sharrow in Dayton, OH (Rodney). Fig. 1 Bike Lane in Dayton, OH (Rodney).

Buck 5 Beyond the cost-efficient benefits of incorporating the complete streets infrastructure, there are proven economic benefits for the individual and community as a whole. Studies show that people who use public transportation, walk or ride their bikes to destinations save money. In Dallas, TX people who used these forms of transportation saved on average $9,026. In Cleveland, OH that number increases to $9,576 (National Complete Streets Coalition). When people save money, they use it on other things such as housing, food, and entertainment. Through incorporating these policies, people are able to save money, and spend it more in their local economies. Complete street policies will help recapture some of the costs associated with traffic congestion. Businesses can lose money if their employees are stuck in traffic and not at work. In fact, this attributed to an estimated $1.1 billion lost in the Los Angeles area alone per year according to (National Complete Streets Coalition). Cycling can play a major role in the local economy as well. According to the League of American Bicyclists, cycling related activities contributes $90 million to the Portland, OR economy, and accounts for 850-1150 jobs (Bicycle Friendy). Through this research we see the benefits of cycling extends past the individual and can help companies and municipalities also. People are attracted to cities for their ease of mobility and the proximity to the jobs they provide (Kisner). The latest trend sweeping the country is bike shares. Bike shares are alternative transportation systems, set up to provide users with a bicycle to ride for short trips under 30 minutes. A series of docking stations for the bikes are installed throughout the city. Users can go to the docking station, swipe their credit card and take a bike to their destination. These systems are in place throughout the United States in cities including: Austin, Chicago, Columbus, Washington DC and New York (Kisner). These systems help create more bicycle friendly cities in multiple ways. First, they add more bikes and cyclists to the streets. Second, they allow people

Buck 6 who do not have a bike, to use a bike. Last, the infrastructure itself, helps to create the visual of a more cycling friendly environment. The docking stations are usually set up in a grid about a quarter mile from one and other. The bikes can usually be checked out for a half hour at a time, as they are to be used for short trips. These bike share programs used as a transportation system do fairly well in cost as compared to other transportation systems. It is a low cost public transit option for its users. The capital cost for one bus is estimated to be $321,000. The cost of one bus would cover the cost of 6 docking stations and 60 bikes. Also, the fare box recovery rate is much higher than that of a bus. Buses recover anywhere between 20-40% of their overall costs. It has been found that bike shares recover around 74% (Murphy). Bike share systems offer a low cost transportation solution to its users that has performed exceptionally well in the cities they have been implemented. These systems also provide a healthier and greener alternative to taking the bus from point A to point B. It can also be used to get to and from the bus station. It is easy to see that incorporating a bike share program can benefit the both the users and the community at large. Both bike lanes and bike shares are great starts to moving toward a bicycle friendly city. The next step is to create a more regional network through multi-use trails and paths. Multi-use trails offer routes away from vehicle traffic to provide a safer place for cyclists of all skill levels, runners, walkers, and equestrians. These paths can serve as an off street highway for users to get from one side of town to another. These paths also connect different communities together, and grant the users access while not having to use their cars. Moreover, these trails offer a great place for parents to take their young children out for a family ride or walk. The trail system is another aspect cities promote to help make their cities more live-able. These trails help create safer and healthier communities.

Buck 7 The trail system is growing in the United States. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that helps to build and maintain these trails. They are based in Washington DC, where they act as a catalyst to help communities and groups, turn old abandoned rail lines into mixed use trails. To date, the United States has over 20,000 miles of rail-trails built with over 9,000 more planned (About Rails-To-Trails). The Rails-To-Trails Conservancy is able to advocate for these trails at both the state and the federal level to help influence policy to make these trails possible. As the trails are used, more and more people visit different areas, they may have never otherwise visited. These trails act as an economic stimulator for the towns they go through. Rails-to-Trails has coordinated studies about the economic impacts of these trails. In 2010, Railsto-Trails conducted a user survey in Morris County, NJ, to monitor trail user characteristics and determine economic impact (Morris County). They found the majority of the users use the trail more than twice a week. Seventy percent of the users who were surveyed indicated they had purchased some form of hard good, or piece of equipment to use on the trail. The average spend was $406.58 per person in the past 12 months, while thirty-seven percent of the respondents purchased some sort of consumable good at an average of $12.54 per person, per trip. The survey also found that people stayed in local accommodations for an average of $51.67 per night. (Morris County) This survey serves as a snapshot of the trail users in the Morris County, NJ area. What we can say from looking at the results is these trails are, without a doubt, a valuable community asset and they provide an economic benefit to Morris County, NJ.

Buck 8 In New York, the Erie Canalway, Parks & Trails New York and the State of New York Canal Corporation released a guide to communities along the canal to attract cyclists. The guide focuses on cyclists because cycling is popular and the second most common form of outdoor recreation in the US. The guide points out that Americans purchase 19 million bicycles per year, 20% more than cars and trucks combined (Bicyclists Bring Business). According to the Outdoor Foundation, the number of trips by American bicyclists grew by about 100 million (Bicyclists Bring Business). These cyclist spend money. They eat, drink, explore, stay, shop and participate in the towns they visit. While these case studies are a good starting point to see data that shows cycling infrastructure can help the people and community, it is also important to look closely at Ohios research, what advocacy groups

have already accomplished, and the plan for moving forward. According to a recent study in the state of Ohio, 34% of adults are considered overweight or obese. That same study

Fig. 3. Paved bicycle trail in Dayton, OH, used by a variety of cyclists (Gray).

found 37% of children are overweight or obese (Rodney). One of the main focuses of the City of Daytons master cycling plan is to create more access for people to get out and ride, and to create a healthier city. The City of Dayton recognizes there is a snowball effect that can happen here. They understand how incorporating cycling into their planning will also serve as an economic stimulator for the local economy. Currently, the City of Dayton and the surrounding Miami Valley is home to the largest paved, off road, connected mixed use trail system in the country. The system in the Miami Valley is made up of over 330 miles of these trails (Rodney).

Buck 9 These trails are used by a multitude of different types of users including cyclists, inline skaters, walkers and joggers. In 2013, The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission did a trail survey to study the use and economic impact of the trail system in the Miami Valley Region. In this survey, many different variables were examined and considered. The data was compared to the survey that was presented in 2009. The numbers were a little skewed from 2009 because of lack of involvement in the study from major partners. However, the study found the majority of the people who are using the trails are biking, and they are using the trails for exercise and fitness. The study also found that a majority of these people are not only using the trails every day of the week, but they are coming multiple times during the week to use the trails. This is an important statistic because it shows these trails are convenient enough to warrant multiple trips per week by multiple users. The study also showed an increase in the amount of people who use both the trails and the streets instead of just the trails since 2009. This indicates that the trails may serve as a confidence builder for the rider. First, they start on the trails and then eventually move to the streets. The more people who are using their bikes on the streets will keep increasing over the coming years. (Miami Valley). This is a vital statistic when looking at the bicycle friendliness of a community. It is also vital to help increase the safety of the riders on the street. It has been proven that the more drivers see cyclists, the less likely it is for an incident to occur (Rodney). In 2013 users responded they are using the trails for longer periods of time per use. The respondents also reported they are starting to receive information on the trails in different ways. While a majority of people are receiving information by word of mouth, there was a jump in percentage of people who received information about the trails from their local bike shop and on the internet. This proves people are seeking out the information instead of having it fed to them. People are spending more time looking up the information on the internet

Buck 10 and more time talking to each other in their bike shops to gain the information. The people who responded want to use the trails and they want to explore the trails further, and they are taking it upon themselves to find out how. Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission estimates these trails are visited and used 772,353 times per year (Miami Valley). The trail system is known to be a valuable asset for recreation and fitness, but what about the economic impact? When surveyed, people who are looking to buy a home said the most valuable amenity is access to the highways at 44%. The next most important amenity is access to

walking/jogging/bike trails at 36% (Rodney). Since it is only

Fig. 4. Youngs Dairy, a local establishment in Yellow Springs, OH, offers a discount to cyclists (Wheel).

second on buyers priority list this shows that one way to have people move to an area, is to improve the cycling infrastructure. People who are looking to buy a home are looking at the

proximity to these trails. These trails are not only helping the housing markets in their communities, but they are also helping to increase business. Chuck Smith, Chair of the Ohio Bicycle Federation, said, New businesses have opened along the trails, proving what many have found across the country to be true cycling is an economic catalyst (Gem). Survey participants of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commissions 2013 survey shows people are spending money because of these trails. People reported buying hard goods such as bicycles, clothing, and other supplies. They also reported purchasing soft goods such as food and beverages. The average respondent reported spending $563 per year on hard goods and $15.78 on soft goods. 8.3% of the respondents reported spending money on lodging and

Buck 11 accommodations. These respondents averaged an amount of $76.81 per night on lodging (Miami Valley). The Rails to Trails Conservancy took this information to extrapolate it to give a more conservative estimation of how big of an economic impact the trails have on the region. They took the results from the 2013 survey, and used the estimation of 772,353 annual visits. They found over a course of a year, the amount spent on hard goods to be $6,015,641, the amount spent on soft goods $5,761,141, and the amount spent on lodging to be $1,296,846. The Rails to Trails Conservancy estimates that the total economic impact these trails have on the Miami Valley is over $13,000,000 annually (Miami Valley). These numbers closely relate to the case study of Morris County, NJ. This only helps prove these trails offer a huge economic impact to the communities that embrace them. This study proves these trails will be and are being used by these communities, and the users of these trails are pumping money into the communities these trails are in. Through work being done by local bicycle advocacy organizations, local municipality governments and by more national organizations, such as the League of American Bicyclists and the Rails to trails Conservancy, giant steps are being taken to create more bicycle friendly communities. More steps need to be taken and this movement needs to continue to grow. These organizations are helping to create vibrant, healthy, and more economically stable communities. By continuing to focus on cycling as a valid form of transportation and a major form of recreation in the way de design our cities, we will be able to aid in driving down the obesity rate, stimulate the local economy, and create more vibrant cities where people will want to live, work and play.

Buck 12

Works Cited About Rails-To-Trails Conservancy Rails-To-Trails. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. Bicycle Friendly America League of American Bicyclists. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New Yorks Canal Communities. Erie Canalway, New York State Canal Corporation, and Parks and Trails New York. Albany: Parks & Trails New York, 2012. Print. "Gem City Cycling: How Dayton Became The Best Of Ohio." Ohio Active. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. Gray, Kevin J. Bike and Hike Your Way through the Miami Valley and Beyond. Dayton City Paper. 30 June 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. Kisner, Corinne. Integrating Bike Share Systems into a Sustainable Transportation System. National League of Cities. 2011. Web. 1 Mar. 2014. Miami Valley Trail User Survey Report Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. 15 Nov. 2013 PDF file. 4 Mar. 2014. Morris County Trails 2010 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis Rails to Trails Conservancy. Dec. 2011. PDF file. 4 Mar. 2014.

Buck 13 Murphey, Scott Dayton Bike Share Feasibility Study Bike Miami Valley. 2013 PDF File. 4 Mar. 2014. National Complete Streets Coalition Smart Growth America. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. Rodney, Andrew. Bicycling in Dayton 2011 and Beyond City of Dayton Department of Planning and Community Development. 2011. PDF file. 6 Mar. 2014. Wheel in Wednesdays. Youngs Jersey Dairy. 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. Williamson, Andy and Valerie Beerbower. United Spokes American Bicyclist Jan. 2014 Web. 26 Feb. 2014.