Would you prefer to live in a community where you have to drive everywhere for everything? Or would you prefer to live in a community where you could walk, ride a bicycle, take public transportation, or drive to get where you want to go? The growth in the popularity of walking and bicycling is a result of many factors, but at its core it is about people choosing a lifestyle that gives them more options and requires less dependence on motor vehicles.
Since its inception, the federal and state governments in the United States have spent approximately $5 trillion to build and maintain the Interstate Highway System. Until recently, federal investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure amounted to less than a tenth of 1 percent of this amount. Now, governments at all levels are rediscovering the value of active transportation, and the creation of bicycle infrastructure is prompting real estate development. The long-range potential of cycling as a mode of transportation is immense. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, if the United States doubled the current 1 percent of all trips by bicycle to 2 percent, the country would collectively save more than 693 million gallons (2.6 billion liters) of gasoline each year. The United States would also cut air pollution, lower carbon emissions, and greatly improve public health.
According to the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California–Davis, in every country, at least 35 percent of trips are under 3.1 miles (5 km), which is equivalent to a 20-minute ride on a bicycle. However, less than 7 percent of urban trips globally are taken on a bike. If 23 percent of trips were taken on bikes by 2050, the world would avoid 300 megatons of CO2 emissions, leading to a cumulative savings of $25 trillion between 2015 and 2050.
The value of cycling has already been demonstrated in bicycle-friendly communities across the globe. Cities that have invested in bike infrastructure have reaped economic and development returns. And, as this report shows, developers who have responded to this trend are being rewarded with both plaudits and profits.