Despite common misconceptions that make officials and business owners resistant to adding bike infrastructure, bicycle advocates are making headway in arguing that bikes bring an economic boost to cities.
According to Snyder, "Far and away, the biggest reason business owners resist the addition of bike infrastructure is that they're afraid it will limit parking. Once they realize they can get 12 bike parking spaces for each car spot, sometimes they begin to change their tune. Even better, they begin to discover that cyclists can be their best customers. 'We tend to shop closer to home and shop more often,' said April Economides, a consultant who helped the city of Long Beach, California build bicycle-friendly business districts."
In St. Louis, Washington University quantified the economic benefit of Open Streets events, and found that "73 percent of Open Streets participants spent money at a restaurant or store on the route, and 68 percent became aware of a restaurant or store that was new to them."
The economic benefits of bike infrastructure development don't stop there, notes Snyder: trails bring tourists and bike paths increase property values.
"Add to that the fact that bike lane construction creates about twice as many jobs as road-building for the same amount of money, and you've got yourself a great economic argument to take to local leaders and politicians when you ask them to support walking and biking – even (or especially) in tough economic times." says Snyder.