The City of La Crosse recently completed an economic impact study of bicycling to determine the return on the investments they have made in bike lanes and paths as well as potential future bike infrastructure. The analysis quantifies how La Crosse’s existing bikeways benefit residents in three areas:
- Transportation and Air Quality
- Health and Safety
- Tourism and Property Values
The results of the study show that completing 40 miles of the additional projects recommended in the City of La Crosse 2012 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan could result in nearly $300 million of economic benefits to the City’s economy.
Currently, the La Crosse has nearly 37 miles of bikeways:
- 7.7 miles of bike lanes
- 17.1 miles of paved paths
- 12 miles of unpaved paths
The study supposed the City invested in an additional 40 miles of bike lanes, paths, and low-stress side streets, all from proposed improvements in the City’s 2012 Master Plan. The improvements in infrastructure would create an environment where many more people could feel safe walking and bicycling. A more connected network of safe streets and trails will make it more attractive and convenient for many more people walk and bicycle to their destinations.
Economic impact studies like these are critically important if we are to understand the return on investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. More and more communities that have made significant investments in bicycling are doing these studies to calculate the return on their investments. The Walton Family Foundation recently completed a study of Bentonville, AR. Over the last ten years, the Foundation has invested $74 million to build mountain bike and paved trails in the Bentonville area. The study found that in just one year, those trails bring in an additional $137 million a year to the regional economy. It doesn’t take a CPA to realize that has been a great investment.
That study was done with help from People for Bikes in order to create EIS templates for other communities to more easily measure their investments in bicycle infrastructure.