A proposal to build a protected bike lane to and through downtown Klamath Falls received a detailed write-up last week in the Herald & News newspaper. While bike lanes are often portrayed mainly as a safety measure – a way to cut down on potentially fatal bicycle accidents – the study cited by the paper makes a compelling argument that protected bike lanes also offer a variety of economic benefits.
The study was prepared by two Oregon Institute of Technology students in cooperation with a member of the Klamath Falls City Council and a team from the Sky Lakes Wellness Center.
Citing the experience of cities as diverse as New York, San Francisco and Portland the study’s authors say the installation of protected bike lanes has led to “an increase in property values, rents, fewer vacant buildings, as well as fewer automobile and bicycle accidents… additionally, a protected bike lane will help connect neighborhoods to downtown, encouraging more people to go downtown and increase the possibility for more business and new businesses.” It noted that cities that have built the lanes have seen property values along and near the lanes rise by 11 percent.
Any major change to local infrastructure, especially one that potentially impacts the entire community, takes time and the Klamath Falls proposal is still at an early stage. It will require further study in terms of its impact on such issues as traffic and parking. Neighborhood groups and local businesses will need to be consulted. “You have to have community buy-in for this to work,” the paper quotes the city councilman saying.
As a Portland bicycle accident attorney, however, I am happy both to see that our city is being held up as an example for other Oregon cities and towns and that the benefits of bicycling are being viewed broadly. Eliminating fatal bicycle accidents should always be the first priority, if evidence that protected bike lanes are also an economic boon helps them get built then so much the better.
The Herald & News: Protected Bike Lanes Offer Multiple Benefits