Denver was recently recognized as a Silver Level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, which suggests that Denver is one of the nation’s best cities for riding a bike. The Silver Level ranking also carries numerous economic benefits of bicycling with it.
Denver’s award comes at a time that the bicycle is experiencing a renaissance in the Mile High City. In 2015 Denver will be installing 19 miles of new bike lanes, adding two new protected bike lanes downtown, opening a new pedestrian bridge over I-25 between Colorado and Evans, and carrying out numerous other bike related initiatives across the city. These planned additions have already fostered a sense of optimism across the city.
Thankfully, bike lanes aren’t the only thing trending up, business is booming in Denver too! The Denver metro region witnessed some of the largest levels of economic growth in the US over the past year with the trend continuing upwards. The economic benefits have also been larger near bike lanes than on similar streets without bike lanes, according to one Denver based study. This study found a $1,570,440 increase in gross sales and a $36,129 increase in food and beverage tax along one of the study corridors in Five Points. The study also found a $2,322,123 increase in gross sales and a $48,420 increase in food and beverage tax along the 15th St. protected bike lane downtown. We were excited to see that the removal of a travel lane didn’t hurt businesses, and appears to have boosted economic performance within the corridor.
Denver has also witnessed an explosion in the number of bike-related businesses popping up across the city. Chrome Industries recently opened a new “Hub” on 15th St. due to the large number of people who ride bikes in Denver. Timbuk2 and several other major brands have also recently opened new locations in Denver to draw on the growth of cycling here. The growth of bike related businesses is not limited to major brands, as we have also seen countless new small businesses pop up around bikes, beer, and everything that makes Denver great, such as the Denver Bicycle Café and StreetsblogDenver.
It would be inaccurate to ascribe Denver’s recent growth to be 100% a result of the bicycle, but it would be equally inaccurate to assume the bike was unrelated to it’s growth. Housing trends are shifting towards higher-density urban areas where car ownership is not mandatory, and millennials are opting to spend their disposable income on stimulating the local economy instead of car payments. There are a whole host of factors that helped elevate Denver to world city status over the past few decades and the bicycle in undoubtedly one of them.