New study: trail-oriented development improves public health and property values

Development International National Sustainability Transportation Urbanism
Cargo bike Copenhagen (New Oresund / Flickr CC)

Cargo bike Copenhagen (News Oresund / Flickr CC)

We all know there’s value in transit-oriented-development, but what about trail-oriented development? The nonprofit Urban Land Institute (ULI) released a study that examines how active transportation—biking and walking infrastructure—can work in urban planning, development, and land-use projects. The report highlights ten case studies (a blend of mixed-use, multi-family, and residential projects) in cities across the the world, from Des Moines, Iowa, to Singapore.

A separated bike lane in New York (Spencer Thomas / Flickr CC)

A separated bike lane in New York (Spencer Thomas / Flickr CC)

European cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam have some of the highest percentages of people who commute by bike. Therefore, they’ve long factored this type of design into their urban development. In the U.S., cities like New York, Seattle, Portland, and Washington D.C. are investing in bike lanes. What happens when officials, urban planners, and developers, and other professionals involved in the built environment put a premium on safe sidewalks, cycle paths, the pedestrian, and the cyclist?

Amsterdam (Ed Webster / Flickr CC)

Amsterdam (Ed Webster / Flickr CC)

Trail-oriented development can create major savings in health costs. “In terms of health and wellness benefits, the report points to savings of $103 million (US dollars) in Sydney due to the increase in bike trips and reduced traffic congestion,” writes the ULI in a release. “Also, in Philadelphia, a 2011 study found that residents’ use of biking trail system avoids $199 million per year in direct medical costs and $596 million in indirect costs.”

Bikes in Amsterdam (Udo Geisler / Flickr CC)

Bikes in Amsterdam (Udo Geisler / Flickr CC)

The ULI report looks at global active transportation infrastructure from multiple perspectives: highways for bicycles in Copenhagen, bike sharing in Paris and China, and The Circuit Trails bike paths in Philadelphia. Real estate also figures prominently in the report. In addition to supporting health and wellness, urban and suburban trail systems help spur real estate development and increase property values. You can read the full report here.

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