We already know that new protected bike lanes (as well as bike shares like the ones in downtown and Santa Monica) are critical for convincing people to get out and ride their bikes. Now, as Co.Exist reports, a new study (from researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University) has reveled a hidden benefit of adding bike lanes.
The study examined the 4.5 miles of bike lane that New York City built for about $8 million in 2015, and it found that the added lanes may increase the probability of riding bikes by about 9%. Since more people on bikes means more people getting regular exercise means less people getting heart disease, the government ultimately saves on health spending. Increased bike ridership also means less people in cars sitting in traffic pumping toxic fumes into the air, which, again, contributes to healthier cities.
All of this suggests, that, compared to other preventative methods of improving public health, the addition of bike lanes is one of the cost-effective options out there.
And there’s good news: Last week, six Southern California counties received grants for $56 million-worth of new bike lanes and walkways. The money is coming from the California Transportation Commission to promote “active transportation.” In addition to $15 million for bike lanes in DTLA, the grants will support projects in Pasadena, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Redlands, and a number of other cities. Of course, even with this uptick in focus on cycling, there are plenty of areas in desperate need of bike lanes. We’re looking at you, Beverly Hills.
Thomas Harlander is a staff writer at Los Angeles magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram. He recently wrote: A Local Hero Has Mapped Every Bar Within Walking Distance of the Metro