Many residents of Billings resent their tax dollars being used to construct paved bike paths. Some believe they are being built to someone’s idea of “greenhouse gas” requirements. Others see the City of Billings with a budget shortfall and consider bike lanes as a luxury when we should be tightening our belts just like families have been during a down economy. Even more think their taxes should only be used to pay for what is absolutely necessary. While all those sentiments are understandable they are shortsighted.

Bike lanes have a positive economic impact on a city and its residents in a variety of ways. Aside from the fact that it does help cut down on greenhouse gases and provides recreation they also improve the health outcomes for communities it boosts the local economy in a variety of ways:

1) Homes that are in close proximity to paved bike paths see their values increase. A study in Pittsburgh found that both property owners and real estate agents both agree that bike paths led to increases in business and property selling prices.
2) Businesses looking to relocate their manufacturing and distribution centers know it's easier to attract the best and brightest to move their families to a city that is high on the "livability" scale. More businesses relocating to Billings means even more jobs which begets more revenue for the city which leads to better public services.
3) Another study conducted in 2007 by Alison Lee from the MASTERS OF URBAN PLANNING FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE BUILDING AND PLANNINGTHE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE (Australia) showed that each square foot allocated to bike parking generates 5 times as much revenue per hour than each square foot used for a car parking space, with food/drink and clothing retailers benefiting the most from bike riders.

So when you are arguing against civic investment into bike paths think of it as if your investing in Treasury Bills. The city doesn't need to spend the money but in the long run we'll be better off if we do.

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