Wheel Estate: Bike Paths Lift Home Values

Posted on Apr 13 2016 - 2:12pm by Suzanne De Vita
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bike pathBicycle-friendly amenities are contributing to a surge in property values  in communities across the globe, marshaled by developments in urban centers and suburban outposts that accommodate “active” transportation.

“Today, bike trails, bike lanes, bike-share systems, and other forms of active transportation infrastructure are helping spur a new generation of ‘trail-oriented development,’” states a recently released report by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) that profiles 10 such developments.

The report, “Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier,” cites a considerable statistic: on a national scale, the values of homes in areas with “above-average” access to active transportation are higher than those of comparable properties by as much as $34,000.

Homes in proximity to the bike-able Indianapolis Cultural Trail, for instance, have seen an astronomical rise in value since the trail’s opening six years ago—148 percent, the report states. In Radnor Township, Pa., the Radnor Trail has raised the values of properties within a quarter-mile by an average approaching $70,000. Similar trends have also emerged in Atlanta and Dallas.

The draw to these trails, or networks, is primarily enhanced well-being, with the increased sense of safety—made possible by features like graded paths, protective posts and “bicycle boulevards” —especially appealing to bicycle commuters, who contend with motorists daily. The opportunity for outdoor physical activity has also markedly piqued interest.

Learn More: Millennials Favor Walkable Communities, Study Shows

Beyond those benefits, bicycle networks can lead to a reduction in air pollution and vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. The Department of Transportation claims half of all trips taken in the U.S. are less than three miles long—a 20-minute ride by bicycle, according to the report.

Big-picture implications arise, as well. The report points to significant increases in rents and retail sales, and a decrease (by the millions) in medical costs, all as a result of trail-oriented development.

Many communities, however, lack access to facilities that fit the bicycle-friendly criteria. Nearly half of participants (48 percent) in a previous ULI study reported inadequate infrastructure to support cycling, though over half (52 percent) would prefer to live in an area without the need for a car.

The cause of this imbalance is unclear. The funds needed to install a bicycle network are relatively modest:  the report references Portland, Ore., which constructed a 300-mile bike trail for approximately the same cost as one mile of a four-lane freeway. Builders have begun to cater to the mounting demand for accessible development, but key members of the industry have yet to take action.

“At its core, the bicycle boom is about people choosing a lifestyle that gives them more options and requires less dependence on motor vehicles,” the report states. “Through supporting bike infrastructure, real estate professionals who influence the built environment [buildings, neighborhoods and streets] can play a significant role in creating healthier, more sustainable communities.”

Is there a bicycle network in your community? Do you promote it in listing descriptions? Share your experience in our comments section below.

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4 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. graham pettengill April 22, 2016 at 11:22 am - Reply

    We have a fabulous trail in our Hudson Ma community that I run or ride on almost daily. Great expansion of trails through out Boston, Hopkinton , Natick and the greater Boston area. A commuter trail to Boston would be a dream come true!!
    Always highlight on my lsitings!!

  2. Mona Lisa Harrison April 22, 2016 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Between Greenville SC and Travelers Rest SC is the Swamp Rabbit Trail. And it’s expanding down to Conestee Park.
    That Trail has spurred amazing economic growth along it, increased property values and brought a lot of attention to the area.
    Because of it’s success, the neighboring towns of Pickens and Easley developed their Doodle Trail.
    Both of these bike/walking trails were developed on abandoned railway paths.

  3. Doug Payson April 23, 2016 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    A large percentage of potential home buyers visiting our real estate office in Orleans, Mass. arrive with two bicycles strapped on the back of their car. The popular Cape Cod Rail Trail, 22 miles long, cuts through Brewster, Orleans and Eastham. From the Cape Cod Rail Trail, connections lead to the Nauset Bike Path in Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham, eight miles of bike paths in Nickerson State Park in Brewster, and the Old Colony Rail Trail, nearly 8 miles long, leading through Harwich and Chatham. Walkable and bikeable communities appeal to aging Baby Boomers, as well as Millenials.

  4. Bobby Fenner April 23, 2016 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    I lived in a community in Northern Virginia for many years which had long bike trails. You could safely ride into Washington, D.C. to work or recreation. When I moved to Southeastern Virginia I was terribly disappointed to see almost no bike trails, no bike lanes and no emphasis placed on bike trails as part of the planning process.

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