The cities of San Francisco, California and Vancouver, B.C. are beginning to see the benefits of becoming cyclist friendly. Both cities are enjoying more economic prosperity related to cycling lanes, increased bike traffic the communities that cyclists build. Additionally, other cities are finding that customers who walk or bike are in some cases more valuable than those who arrive by car.
Although San Francisco is a city fraught with hills, the comprehensive bike lane plans and the removal of one its downtown highways have made man-powered vehicles a staple among residents. The city began encouraging alternative transportation over forty years ago, so policy has helped shape a pro-bicycle culture. Almost half of retail stores also report that their businesses have increased revenue as bike lanes and traffic have increased throughout the city. Valencia Street in particular is known to be a cyclist and pedestrian friendly shopping district.
Recent policies in British Columbia have turned Vancouver into a hub of “green” experiments. The province has already enacted a carbon pollution tax. One neighborhood even featured a bike lane separate from the main streets, increasing safety and comfort for bikers. Stores in the neighborhood have seen enough increase in business since the bike lane was launched that offerings and displays have been changed to accommodate them. Real estate agents in Vancouver are also reporting that nearby bike lanes are a buying perk for potential homeowners.
The city of Toronto recently discovered that 90% of customers in the Bloor Annex neighborhood use alternative transportation, and is currently restructuring parking lots to accommodate the environmentally conscious movers. As New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. work to implement bike-sharing programs, they could also look to San Francisco and Vancouver to encourage a positive cycling culture.