Cities Investing in Cycling Attract Millennials, Women

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San Diego and several other cities are investing in cycling-specific infrastructure while encouraging residents to ride bikes as a way to reduce traffic and air pollution, promote fitness and discourage sedentary lifestyles. Cycling already leads to numerous health benefits, but some critics are wondering if cycling is a good investment.

To find the answer, researchers used Auckland, New Zealand as an example of a large urban city, and developed several hypothetical cycling policies to determine their cost and return on investment.

Researchers developed three policies to invest in bike friendly infrastructure:

Regional Cycling Network (RCN) – clearly marked designated bike lanes with no physical barrier between cyclists and traffic on 46 percent of main roads, as well as a small number of shared bus and bicycle lanes.

Arterial Segregated Bike Lanes (ASBL) – One-way lanes with a physical barrier separating drivers from cyclists on all main roads.

Self-Explaining Roads (SER) – Modifying street layouts to include structural changes and visual cues meant to slow traffic and create more room for cyclists.

The most effective strategy combined the ASBL and SER policies, which were highest in cost but provided the most benefits. Commuter cyclists would increase by 40 percent, while car use would diminish to only 40 percent of all commuters. Most importantly, the increased activity would save the lives of 3,750 people by 2051.

The regional cycling network was the least beneficial, increasing commuter cyclists from 1 percent to 5 percent by 2051, but the increased physical activity alone would save 450 lives.

In all scenarios, the health and societal benefits of cycling far outweighed the risks, proving that cities willing to invest in cycling-specific infrastructure are investing in a healthy future for their residents.

Sponsored by Dudek Law Firm, APC of San Diego, CA

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