Cycling Beltway

FOHKY Beltway Project

A foundational project to create a bidirectional 13-mile loop through all four quadrants, encircling the city of Hickory.  By modifying existing infrastructure, we hope to promote cycling as a safe, enjoyable and alternate form of transportation in keeping with a larger complete street plan.  By taking advantage of our central location and encouraging smart development, this project will help bring about economic development, healthier communities, increased safety, awareness and education – making our city a more vibrant and desirable place to live.  This will hopefully serve as a starting point for many numerous initiatives moving forward.

The long-term goal is to make Hickory a truly “Bike Friendly” City.  We have 3 defined current goals:

  1. Building the Beltway – by working directly with the city, WPCOG, NCDOT and coordinating with other organizations towards making sure this project not only gets done, but done well!
  2. Creating a local Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) – a voluntary liaison to the city, businesses, and community. A permanent resource for not only this project, but future cycling and ancillary cycling-related projects too.
  3. Advocating for a Cycling/Pedestrian coordinator – a permanent city staff position who oversees development of cycling infrastructure, smart growth and who can chase down the numerous grants to help fund it all.

Community Impact

Bikeways make places more valuable.

A 2006 study found that in Minneapolis, median home values rose $510 for every quarter-mile they were located closer to an off-street bikeways. In Washington D.C., 85% of nearby residents say the 15th Street bike lane is a valuable community asset. By mapping real estate transactions, researchers have been able to show that bike facilities can have positive, statistically significant impacts on home values.  A study of home values near the Monon Trail in Indianapolis, Ind. measured the impact of the trail on property values. Given two identical houses, with the same number of square feet, bathrooms, bedrooms, and comparable garages and porches – one within a half mile of the Monon Trail and another further away – the home closer to the Monon Trail would sell for an average of 11 percent more.

Bikeways help companies attract talent.

Several recent studies have shown that younger people are increasingly disenchanted with driving. The percentage of people age 16 to 24 with driver’s license is lower than at any point since 1963. And among people 16 to 34, bike trips have increased 24 percent.

Bike commuters are healthier and more productive.

According to a 2003 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “workplace physical activity programs can reduce short-term sick leave by six to 32 percent, reduce health care costs by 20 to 55 percent, and increase productivity by 2 to 52 percent.” While we don’t know how much of those effects are due to biking, the benefits of integrating physical activity into daily routines are indisputable. A study of 30,604 people in Copenhagen showed that people who commuted to work by bike had 40 percent lower risk of dying over the course of the study period than those who didn’t and bike commuters average a day fewer absences due to illness each year than non-bike commuters.

Bike facilities increase retail stores’ visibility and sales.

There’s plenty of evidence that bike infrastructure gives retail businesses a boost. According to a San Francisco State University study, 66 percent of shops on San Francisco’s Valencia Street reported business improved after the city reduced the width for cars, and widened sidewalk and added bike infrastructure. A 2008 Australian study showed that per square foot, bike parking produced more than three times the revenue for businesses than car parking in an hour.

Bicycling saves a city money.

Researcher Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has attempted to quantify the benefits of switching from driving to bicycling. He looked at the benefits of congestion reduction, roadway cost savings, vehicle cost savings, parking cost savings, air pollution reduction, energy conservation, and traffic safety improvements. Litman estimated that replacing a car trip with a bike trip saves individuals and society $2.73 per mile.

 It reduces congestion and therefore reduces the need for more freeways.

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, “Gridlock costs the average peak period traveler almost 40 hours a year in travel delay, and costs the United States more than $78 billion each year…traffic jams are wasting 2.9 billion gallons of gas every year.” There is reason to believe, however, based on the recent decline in driving, that a relatively small shift from cars to other modes could have an outsized impact on congestion. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there was a 3 percent drop in traffic on “urban interstates” from 2007 to 2008. This has translated to a nearly 30 percent reduction in peak hour congestion, indicating that “when a road network is at capacity, adding or subtracting even a single vehicle has disproportionate effects for the network. And in urban areas, where cars and bicyclists travel at similar speeds, bike lanes can accommodate 7 to 12 times as many people per meter of lane per hour than car lanes and bicycles cause less wear on the pavement.

Bicycling saves in health related costs.

There are many different ways to estimate the health cost savings of bicycling. The values vary depending on study design, medical conditions attributed to inactivity, cost data availability, and other variables, but all studies show positive outcomes. The health savings resulting from physical activity, measured in 10 different studies, range up to $1,175 per person, per year. The median annual per capita value of the ten studies was $128.

These reasons alone justify spending on bicycle facilities. A 2009 study in England found that, because of health improvements, congestion reduction, and environmental benefits, a small number of additional regular riders are needed to pay for new cycling infrastructure. For example, the study’s Cycling Planning Model suggests that an investment of $16,521 U.S. requires just one additional cyclist riding three times a week over the thirty year life of the project. With the proper investments, it is possible to increase the share of bicycling trips and lead to the economic benefits described above. The results of a study of 33 large U.S. cities, (excluding New York City, which is considered an outlier in much transportation research because of its size and high use of public transportation) showed that each additional mile of bicycle lane is associated with an approximate one-percent increase in the share of bike-to-work trips.

Essentially, bike infrastructure pays for itself and brings cities economic growth.