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Wednesday, October 22, 2014  |   Madison, WI: 44.0° F  
CITIZEN DAVE: Thoughts and ideas about city building from Madison's former mayor
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Citizen Dave: Bikes are good even if you don't ride one
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When I go around giving speeches about bikes and cities, I make two simple points. The first is that bikes are about freedom of transportation choice. And the second point is that bikes are good for you as a citizen even if you don't ride them yourself.

I covered the first point yesterday, so to finish up Bike to Work Week, I'd like to close with this final thought about bikes and cities.

Even if you never get on a bike here's how bikes benefit you.

Less climate change gases. The biggest threat to our environment and maybe to humanity right now is global climate change. Bikes emit no carbon dioxide except for the breaths cyclists take.

Less pressure on your taxes. It's expensive to fix roads, and most of the cost of repairing local streets is borne not by the gas tax but by property taxpayers.

Less competition for a parking spot. Parking is very expensive. It costs up to $40,000 a stall if you're going underground, where parking belongs. In fact, it's parking that drives a lot of the demand for public subsidies of downtown projects. So, in addition to making it easier for you to find a spot, less parking is another way bikes save on your tax bill.

Better economic development. The new economy is all about a mobile workforce of talented people who can work from anywhere. They live in places they like, and they look increasingly at bike friendliness as an indicator of an attractive community. There's even a way to measure that, the Bicycle Friendly Communities Program presented by the League of American Bicyclists. Madison does pretty well on the 2013 list (PDF). We're a "gold" city, in the second tier right below the very best biking cities. Last year, 450 cities in North America competed for a spot on that list, and it wasn't just because they like bikes. It's because cities recognize bikeability as a marker of attractiveness in the new economy.

As I wrote when we started the week, bicycles are an unmitigated good for our environment, for public health, for your pocketbook and for our cities. The more trips taken by bike, the higher the quality of life for everyone.

Have a good weekend. Maybe take a bike ride.

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