The Green Lane Project announced $125,000 in grants today to be awarded in five of our project focus cities – Austin, Texas, Chicago, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, and Washington, DC. A local non-profit in each city will receive $25,000 to build the case for how green lanes in their community benefit local businesses.
Although all of the cities have impressive goals for expanding bicycling through building these innovative facilities, support from the business community is crucial in moving complicated projects forward. Many business leaders already understand the benefits that biking can offer them; however, others are apprehensive when projects remove car parking spaces or travel lanes. These grants will help cities better understand and address business community concerns and recruit business voices as supporters.
Local efforts will include grassroots engagement with businesses located on key corridors, as well as identification and cultivation of respected business leaders who can help guide public opinion.
"We have clear examples in our city that growing the number of people riding bikes benefits businesses. Better bicycling facilities draw new visitors to explore commercial corridors on two wheels and help professionals get to work more easily and enjoyably,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycling Coalition, one of the organizations receiving a $25,000 grant on behalf of their city. “As more business leaders recognize these benefits, they too can be champions for great bikeways in their own communities."
Studies have shown that people arriving by bike spend as much, or in some cases more, at local shops and restaurants than those who arrive by car. In New York City, retail sales increased 49% on 9th Avenue after green lanes were installed, compared to 3% growth in the rest of Manhattan. Savvy cities are also learning that the best and brightest young professionals, key for growing businesses, are attracted to more livable cities. “It’s part of my effort to recruit entrepreneurs and start-up businesses because a lot of those employees like to bike to work,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, of his promise to build 100 miles of protected bike lanes in four years.
These grants are supported, in part, by REI, the national outdoor gear and apparel retailer. Grant recipients will engage with their local REI stores in developing their projects, including a clear plan for measuring the grants’ success.
Details on each of the $25,000 grants:
Austin, TX, Movability Austin
Chicago, IL, Active Transportation Alliance
Portland, OR, Bicycle Transportation Alliance
San Francisco, CA, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Washington, DC, Washington Area Bicyclist Association