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Bicycling and walking facilities provide a wide range of benefits to individuals, their communities, and the surrounding environment. The information below summarizes some of the many types of economic benefits that can be gained by accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists within North Carolina's transportation network.

Walking and bicycling investments result in increased property values and economic development.

Walking and bicycling trails and paths are in high demand. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, trails are consistently ranked one of the most important community amenities by prospective homebuyers, above golf courses, parks, security, and others. Seventy percent of Americans say that having bike lanes or paths in their community is important to them, and two-thirds of homebuyers consider the walkability of an area in their purchase decision. This preference for communities that accommodate walking and bicycling is reflected in property values across the country.

Increased Property Values

A study of over 90,000 U.S. home sales found that better walking conditions were correlated with higher housing prices in 13 of the 15 housing markets studied, controlling for other factors that influence housing value. The results showed that houses in walkable neighborhoods have property values $4,000 to $34,000 higher than houses in areas with average walkability. In Apex, the Shepard's Vineyard housing development added $5,000 to the price of 40 homes adjacent to the regional greenway – and those homes were still the first to sell. A similar study in Ohio found that the Little Miami Scenic Trail increases single-family home property values by $7.05 for every foot closer a property is located to the trail. These cases show the tangible economic benefits that walking and bicycling projects have for homeowners, and the premium that people are willing to pay to live in places that accommodate walking and bicycling.

Tourism & Economic Development

Investing in walking and bicycling paths and lanes also stimulates the local economy by generating tourism revenue, supporting local business, and creating jobs.30,31,32 Many tourists seek out places that they can experience outside of their cars, where they feel comfortable walking and bicycling to explore a new area. In the Outer Banks, a one-time public investment of $6.7 million in paths and wide paved shoulders has generated $60 million in annual tourism revenue from bicyclists. An estimated 1,400 jobs are created or supported each year with expenditures from bicycle tourists. Moreover, quality bicycling conditions played a major part in many tourists'' choice of destination and duration of stay: 43% of visitors surveyed considered bicycling in their decision to vacation in the Outer Banks, while 53% reported bicycling as a major factor in deciding to return to the area in the future. 12% decided to stay in the area longer because of the quality of local bicycle facilities, with an average extension of 4 days.

Project Jobs Created and/or Supported
$1M on road construction 7 jobs
$1M on bicycle facilities 11-14 jobs
Ecusta Rail Trail 180 jobs
Outer banks paths and shoulders 1,400 jobs
Great Allegheny Passage Trail $7.5 million in wages

Similar tourism benefits are seen elsewhere in the state and around the country. An economic impact analysis of the proposed Hendersonville-to-Brevard Ecusta Rail Trail estimates that the trail will:

  • Generate $1.2 million per year in tourism revenue
  • Attract 1,600 new exercisers and 20,000 new visitors to the area each year
  • Generate $22 million in property value increases
  • Yield $5 million per year in health care cost reductions

In San Antonio, Texas, the River Walk has surpassed the Alamo as the most popular attraction for the city's $3.5 billion tourism industry. This downtown network of walkways was created for just $425,000.34 The 141-mile Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail that stretches from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cumberland, Maryland, generated $40 million in revenue from trail users in 2008, and an additional $7.5 million in wages were attributed to the GAP. These projects show the potential for relatively low-cost walking and bicycling improvements to generate a high return on investment, attracting homebuyers, workers, and visitors who increase local revenue and support jobs and businesses year after year.

Trip Distance % of Trips Cumulative % of Trips Minutes to Walk Minutes to Bike
1 mile or less 28 28 15 5
1.1 – 2 miles 13 41 30 10
2.1 – 3 miles 9 50 45 15
Find out more about the 5 Pillars of the Plan