Study tells real estate developers building for walking and cycling is good for business

A study by the Urban Land Institute has found that real estate developers will very often see huge returns on investments in walking and cycling infrastructure.

Focusing on active transportation, the analysis looks in detail at development proximity to cycling and walking infrastructure. Echoing previous studies (linked here), the researchers discovered increased overall retail spend, as well as property price increases in the vicinity of people friendly pathways.

The report begins: Fifty percent of U.S. residents say that walkability is a top priority or a high priority when considering where to live, according to the Urban Land Institute’s America in 2015 report, and, according to the U.S. Census, bicycling has become the country’s fastest-growing form of transportation for commuters.

Citing examples around the world, including Singapore – where developers are now required by law to build in active travel links – examples include the finding that properties within 1/4 of a mile of Philadelphia’s Circuit Trail network were on average valued at $69,000 higher than others in the area. Meanwhile in Montreal, home values increased by CA$8.649.80 after the installation of bike share locally.


Other findings within include:

  • A 2014 study in Indianapolis found that property within a block of the 8 mile Cultural Trail rose 148% in value. This trail cost just $63.5 million, leading the city to declare it an “economic boon”.
  • In Texas the same occurred, with home values soaring 80% upon the installation of the 3.5 mile Katy Trail in Dallas.
  • Nationwide: pointing to the CEOs for Cities study, the research flags that houses found in areas with above average active travel levels are typically worth up to $34,000 more than similar residential plots.

Cycle lanes are good value for money too in terms of cost-to-benefit ratio, says the study. Portland spent around $60 million on 300 miles of bike boulevards in 2008 – the same cost as just 1.6km of four-lane freeway for cars.

On retail sales the study draws on research by the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking, in which it was found that although cyclists may spend less per visit on average than motorists, they make more frequent appearances at stores, spending more overall per month.

These findings have been highlighted previously, including most famously in the Measuring the Street report of Manhattan. The Urban Land Institute dug further, finding that in Salt Lake City replacing car parking with bike lanes increased retail sales by around 8.8% in the first six months. Though opposition is often strong to such policy, 59% of business owners here supported the changes once in place, while only 18% opposed them.stats2

Moving on to Florida, research centering on the impact of the Pinellas Trail found that retail vacancies dropped by over 50% on the opening of the active travel network.

Speaking to Houston Public Media, contributing author Ed McMahon offered: “If you go into a community and somebody says, well, no one in our community will ever ride a bicycle, usually it’s because there’s nowhere to ride the bicycle. And when a city like Houston and so many others start actually investing even small amounts of money in alternative ways to get around, people love to have more options and choices.”

To read the findings in full, click here. Cycling Campaigners can also find a further bank of evidence to support their case for safe active travel infrastructure here.