Summit Plenary: “This Movement Represents the Future of our Country”
Secretary Ray LaHood is a tough act to follow… unless, of course, you’re Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City’s Transportation Commissioner and visionary behind the transformation of the Big Apple into a leading city for cycling in the U.S.
Kicking off the Bicycling Means Business theme at the 2013 National Bike Summit last night, Sadik-Khan highlighted some new and exciting data out of NYC that shows the economic boost of biking in tangible terms.
The NYC DOT dug into the data, analyzing the sales tax receipts of businesses on streets with bike lanes vs. streets without facilities. “The findings were really astonishing — and an incredibly important quiver in our advocacy moving forward,” she said. “On 8th and 9th avenues, the nation’s first protected bike lanes, since 2007, we’ve seen a 50 percent increase in sales tax revenues — 16 times the borough-wide numbers… And we’ve seen this all over the city. It’s not surprising that more and more businesses are finding that bike access provides easier access for customers and improves the retail setting of the street.”
That’s not the only good news. Bruce Katz, director of the Metropolitcan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, called bike advocates the vanguards of the future. “In 1983, half of young Americans had a driver’s license; today it’s 29 percent,” he said. “When people live within a mile of work, nearly 40% walked or biked in 2009 — up from 25% in 1995…. These are profound shifts in a very very short period of time and I think we’re at the beginning of something even more dramatic. Over time, the big trends and forces are with this movement… This movement fundamentally represents the future of our country.”
And it’s not just in the big cities, Katz emphasized.”We’re seeing the urbanization of the suburbs — urban style density in these places,” he said during the plenary discussion. “The bulk of the country lives in suburbs and that’s why I brought up Research Triangle [in my remarks]. When Research Triangle decides it’s going to urbanize, it sends an enormous signal to all of suburban America that this is what it’s going to take to compete for talented workers… We’re talking about metropolitan America, not just urban America… It’s going to require dramatic change in the American landscape, but it’s already happening, and the people in this room are doing the political work necessary to remake streets and places.”
But, to accelerate that progress, we need more people speaking up, added Trek President John Burke. “Bike shops are seeing more people who want to ride bikes in the cities, but they want safe places to ride,” he said. “How do we link that love of cycling and the desire for safe places to ride…If we really want to change America, we need a lot more people who are coming into the bike shops and want to ride for transportation or to go out to dinner to also ask their local leaders for those facilities. Then we’ll see change very quickly… If we win in the cities, we’ll win in the suburbs.”
Stay tuned for more from the Summit…
Photos by Brian Palmer