ULI members and partners in the Washington, DC region believe it would be beneficial for the area if more people biked and walked to work, and expect the walking and biking trend to grow in the next several years.
A survey conducted by ULI Washington, intended to take the pulse of members on walking, bicycle use, and real estate in the DC region, found that 96% of respondents believed that the region would be better off if people commuted by bike or foot. Nearly half of the respondents indicated that in order to achieve this, what the region needs the most is an increase in bike lanes, sidewalks, trails, and other facilities. Over half of the respondents do not believe that the municipalities in the region are doing enough to support biking and walking as transportation options within plans and policies.
Additional findings include:
- 80% see more building owners and developers offering bike amenities for employees and tenants
- 87% see walking and biking to work as a growing trend in the coming years
- 79% said their company offers programs and incentives that support biking or walking to work
Bike amenities expected to increase in popularity
Lisa Rother, Executive Director for ULI Washington, believes that the days of developers fighting to include parking in their developments are dwindling, at least in areas with commuting options other than driving.
Although the survey found that 80% of respondents feel that the region’s employers are currently not doing enough to support biking and walking as a transportation option, Rother also expects building managers and owners to begin offering amenities for bicycle commuters, including repair stations and bike rentals for employees.
Respondents said that the best regional examples of bike amenities and programs include; policies that require bike amenities in Arlington, VA; new residential developments in the DC NoMa area and the Southwest Waterfront; the CoStar and USGBC buildings in Northwest DC; and Capital BikeShare. The best national examples of cities providing reliable and useful bike infrastructure include Seattle, Santa Barbara, and Minneapolis.
Health and cost benefits of promoting biking
Providing bike parking for employees is a significant cost savings over car parking. At least twelve bicycles can fit in one car parking space, and a bike rack costs a fraction of the cost of a space in a parking garage: $150 to 300 versus $15,000 plus maintenance costs.
In addition to being increasingly popular methods of commuting and cost effective for developers looking to reduce parking costs, alternatives to driving are also associated with improved health outcomes. Walking or biking to work helps to meet the recommended 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and the average person will lose 13 pounds in the first year of biking to work. A study from the United Kingdom, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that commuters who bike and walk to work have a 40% lower chance of developing diabetes than those who drive.
Along with providing valuable information on member’s opinions of bike and pedestrian commuting, the ULI Washington survey got some press in the Washington Post over the weekend: the Post story can be found here.
Let us know your opinions on how biking and walking to work can improve the health of cities and of individuals in the comments below.