Economic Benefits of the Bicycle

by Darren Kessner

As every child knows, riding a bike is fun. Think about how happy you were when you got your first bicycle. Prepare to make that smile even wider — riding a bike makes financial sense for you personally, for your local business community, and for the world.

How much time and money do you spend just to put gas in your car? How much time do you spend in traffic, and then circling to find a parking space, while that gas that you just bought slowly burns? Your gas money could buy a new bicycle in a few weeks. Your gym membership dues could pay for bikes for the rest of your family. Plus, you’ve just gained a few hours a week, now that you’re combining your errand time with your exercise time. Of course, the health benefits of cycling — the increased exercise and the decreased stress levels — also lead to economic benefits, including less time being sick and less medical treatment down the road.

Bicycles also bring benefits to your local business community. City officials and business owners have realized this in Long Beach, CA, where they have been installing “bike corrals”. A bike corral provides secure parking for 14 bicycles in the space of a single automobile parking spot. Business owners know that a cyclist cruising at 10mph is likely to notice a “Sale” sign and
stop to take a look, while an automobile driver will not even notice the store while zipping by at 45mph. Local residents are also more likely to run out for a quick errand if they know that there is a safe bike route and convenient bike parking at the destination.

Looking at our society today, it is hard to believe that the gas-powered automobile was introduced just four generations ago. Now there are over half a billion cars around the world, all burning fuel and spitting pollutants into the atmosphere. At the same time, we spend billions of dollars on healthcare costs due to sedentary lifestyles, in addition to even more billions of dollars on cleaning up oil spills and fighting wars over oil supplies. Instead of asking, “What’s the benefit to me for riding my bike?”, we should be asking, “What’s the benefit to everyone if we all ride our bikes?”

You don’t have to give up your car to make a difference — here are 3 simple things you can do:
1. Get your bike ready to go. Pump up the tires and make sure your lock, helmet, and backpack are ready. Turn your bike into a cargo hauler by adding a rack and baskets.
2. Take a first ride and buy something from a local business. Tell the business owner that you traveled by bicycle. Even better, make a commitment to replace a single car trip with a bike trip once a week.
3. Email your City Council members — let them know that you want a safe route to your favorite local businesses. For Culver City, this means: implement the Bike & Ped Master Plan as soon as possible, including bike lanes and signage along the major corridors (for example, Washington Blvd.).

Route of the week:

Here’s a nice residential route from Veterans Park area to Downtown Culver City. From the Veterans Park neighborhood, go South to Franklin Ave on either Elenda St or Coombs Ave. Franklin Ave becomes Farragut Dr as you cross at the Overland Ave. traffic light. Stay on Farragut Dr all the way into the cul-de-sac past Jasmine Ave — here you’ll see a path that is open to pedestrians and cyclists. In consideration of the surrounding residents, please walk your bike through the Jackson-Jasmine Passage. Once you’re through the passageway, continue on Farragut Dr, turning left on Lincoln Ave (the block before Duquesne). Turn right on Braddock Dr, and go until you hit Linwood Howe Elementary School at Irving Pl. Turn left, and go up into Downtown Culver City. There are bike racks on Irving Pl next to Santa Maria BBQ, as well as in the Downtown Plaza, in front of SportEve, and in front of Trader Joe’s. You can find the route map on the CCBC website.

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