In the ongoing conversation about why Americans need more biking and walking options in their transportation infrastructure, often the "it feels good," "it's better for the environment," or "it's better for your health" arguments unfortunately don't carry a lot of weight.
But you start talking economics, and wealth, and industry, and people tend to listen, particularly those elected officials and business leaders who are often difficult to engage on more "esoteric" concepts.
One of the most persuasive arguments in support of more appropriate investment in walking and biking infrastructure has been its direct connection to real estate values. The American Association of Homebuilders has long recorded that access to a nearby trail is one of the amenities most desired by new homebuyers, and all across America neighborhoods and cities are booming or tanking based on how well they accommodate people who don't want to rely on a car to get around.
A brand new web service called Bike Score is now set to increase the pressure on planners to be more conscious of bike connectivity. Brought to you by the same people who launched Walk Score in 2007, Bike Score ranks a city, or neighborhood within a city, based on the availability of bike lanes, hilliness, the number of bikeable destinations and the level of commuting.
According to this article at www.fastcoexist.com, Bike Score cofounder John Herst says the new service is aimed at home-seekers who want to be less car-dependent. He hopes a greater focus on the connection between convenient bike pathways and real estate desirability will encourage more competition between planners to build bike friendly communities. So do we.
(Minneapolis is Number 1, by the way. How does your city fare?)