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June 14, 2024

Why is Bike Infrastructure Important?

By: Dave Snyder, senior director for infrastructure

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When people have safe and accessible places to bike, communities become safer and more sustainable, residents enjoy better physical and mental health, and the local economy thrives.

Through our Great Bike Infrastructure Project, PeopleForBikes is helping communities across the country develop safe and connected bike infrastructure that gives people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to experience the many joys of bicycling for everyday trips and recreation. The Great Bike Infrastructure Project seeks to transform local communities by providing countless benefits to all community members, not just those who bike. When proper infrastructure enables increased bicycling, communities become safer and more sustainable, residents enjoy better physical and mental health, and the local economy thrives.

The Great Bike Infrastructure Project includes three pillars:

  • A legislative playbook to aid lawmakers and advocates in implementing the most impactful state and local policies that will lead to safer streets
  • A nationwide database and interactive map tracking progress on more than 1,400 bike infrastructure projects, as well as resources to support the completion of those projects
  • Local investment, including PeopleForBikes’ expert leadership and influence, to secure support for transformative infrastructure changes 

PeopleForBikes also measures progress towards building bike infrastructure through City Ratings, a data-driven program that analyzes how well a city is served by its network of bikeways. Cities are scored on a scale of 0-100, with a score of 50 being the tipping point to becoming a great place to bike. The better a city’s bike infrastructure and low-stress streets safely and conveniently connect people to everyday destinations, the higher its City Ratings score.

Why is bike infrastructure important? Communities with high City Ratings scores are more than just great places to bike: 

They are safer. Quality bike infrastructure reduces conflicts between road users. Research conducted in 2019 revealed that cities with protected bike lanes experienced 44% fewer fatalities for all road users and 50% fewer serious injuries compared to average cities, meaning protected bike lanes make roads safer for everyone, regardless of transportation mode.

They are healthier. Biking is an excellent form of low-impact physical exercise and studies show that every dollar invested in active transportation infrastructure saves communities $24 in health averted health care costs.

They are happier. Riding a bike is good for your mental health. According to the International Journal of Epidemiology, exercise reduces symptoms of depression and bicycling outdoors improves mood and increases social interaction.

They have a thriving economy. The revenue generated by tourism in areas with active transportation opportunities is eight to nine times the original investment in infrastructure upgrades. According to an analysis from the National Complete Streets Coalition, in Orlando, Florida, streets with bike infrastructure updates saw 77 new businesses open, creating 560 jobs over seven years.

They are better for the planet. Biking is a nearly zero-emission mode of transportation. The transportation sector is the highest emitter of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) in the U.S., responsible for 29% of all emissions. Most of those emissions (57%) come from passenger cars and light-duty trucks (pickups and SUVs). When 53% of car trips made in the U.S. are three miles or less (the equivalent of a 20-minute bike ride for the average person) there is a tremendous opportunity to shift close-to-home trips to those made by bike with more safe and connected infrastructure.

They foster community. Evidence is strong that places where the built environment (i.e. infrastructure) fosters social connection have high levels of civic engagement and community resilience. Infrastructure that connects people to their community instead of simply driving through it fosters social connection.  

In short, the Great Bike Infrastructure Project is really the Great Community Project. At PeopleForBikes, we focus on improving and increasing opportunities for bicycling because the simple bicycle can be a powerful tool to transform our communities into better places for everyone. 

Want to make your community a great place to live through more and better bike infrastructure?Explore our Great Bike Infrastructure Project to find bike projects near you that need your support. You can also sign up to receive our local action alerts so you’re aware of every opportunity to advance pro-bike policies in your city and state.

Related Topics:

Bike SafetyBike Networks
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