Building bike-friendly

I guess you know bicycling is on its way to normalcy when the Puget Sound Business Journal reports that “if there really is a War on Cars, more and more employers and commercial developers are siding with the bicyclists.”

In fact,  pro-car, anti-rail Kemper Development is investing $300,000 in the “warchest” - in the form of posh bicycling amenities in their Bellevue Collection.  The next thing you know, Amazon - whose heart-warming core value is frugality - will start investing in world class on-street bicycle infrastructure. Oh wait....

Amazon's example of leading-edge bicycle infrastructure: the proposed 7th Avenue cycle track

While there are some admirable exceptions, business support for bicycling is not based on idealistic grounds. It's based on cold hard cash. Because while it certainly satisfies all areas of the proverbial triple bottom line (economy, environment and equity), the fact is that bicycling satisfies the ultimate bottom line - money.

Parking is ridiculously expensive to build and maintain, up to $40,000 for a single car stall. Yet, the same footprint can accommodate up to 10 bicycles. Spending less on parking means fewer costs to pass onto tenants (or their customers). Speaking of customers and the bottom line, from Portland to New York City customers who get around by bicycle spend more money.

Besides significant cost savings and revenue increases, consumer demand is also a big factor here. The young creative class of talent that is driving innovation and economic growth is not all that interested in...well...driving. They want bikeable, walkable places to live, play and work.

So folks are looking for bike-friendly buildings to call home. Companies are looking for space with bike-friendly locations, commuter amenities and savvy landlords. And real estate is doing just what it's supposed to: respond to market trends.

ViaBike Club, inside the bike-centric new Via6 apartment complex at Sixth Avenue and Lenora Street, offers 24-hour access to a secure bike room and a fully-equipped men’s and women’s locker room.

And who knows, now that they are more heavily invested in bicycling in their own projects, perhaps some of these players will add their voice to the rising chorus of bike-friendly business leaders. Weirder things have happened.