Can Investing in More Bike Parking Save a City?
Bike parking doesn’t just encourage people to ride more, it can help improve a city, providing a social and an economic benefit.
A study in Melbourne showed that bike parking can bring in five times the revenue of car parking, and in another study, it was shown that customers that arrived to businesses by cycling or walking, actually spend more money than those that get there by car.
These are just some of the reasons that writer and bike advocate Elly Blue argues that investing in bike parking can help to improve cities, as she highlights in a recent article on Gizmodo.
Covering our cities with asphalt isn’t just ugly, it eats up millions of dollars in taxable land revenue per year. When neighborhoods become more walkable, with less parking and smaller roads, existing property values — and tax revenues — go up. Highways and parking lots represent a massive amount of taxable property that could yield thousands of dollars per lot, per year — representing millions of dollars of lost revenue for cities. Instead, the constant need for maintenance drains public and private coffers and this cost is overshadowed by the opportunity cost of what could be built in our cities instead.
Author of “Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy,” Blue points out that most of this space used for traditional parking lots is usually free, citing that in the US, 99 percent of cars end up parked in a free spot when they head out somewhere. She adds, “The value of that land — and to a lesser extent, the costs of paving, sweeping, policing, and maintaining it —makes parking one of the largest subsidies going.”
In terms of city investments, putting money into bike parking is a much lower cost than car parking. Bike parking takes up ten times less space than car parking, and the ultimate cost can be anywhere from 30 to 300 times less. The payoff can also be greater, as shown by one study which concluded that bike parking generated $31 per square meter, while car parking only generated $7.
While we won’t be replacing car parking with bike parking anytime soon, it’s a compelling argument given that there are so many benefits attached. More bike parking means more people cycling as a form of transportation, and that means a number of health and environmental benefits as well as economic.
In fact, car parking spaces have a serious environmental effect, and that’s without the cars driving and parking in them. According to a study cited by People for Bikes, “There are 800 million car parking spaces in the U.S., totaling 160 billion square feet of concrete and asphalt. The environmental impact of all car parking spaces adds 10 percent to the CO2 emissions of the average automobile.”
Room for bikes may not save a city by themselves, but as we think about what makes for smart and sustainable cities, there’s plenty of proof that bike parking needs to be a serious component of city planning.
Photo Credit: redjar