Courtesy of Bike Tahoe · 4 min read
STATELINE, Nev. – Bike paths can transform a community to be safer, healthier, and contribute to its economic and environmental sustainability. A bike path, or more accurately called a shared-use trail, is a “completely separated right-of-way for the exclusive use of bicyclists and pedestrians with cross-flow from vehicles minimized.” [footnote]Lake Tahoe Region Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan[/footnote]
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency reports that the Lake Tahoe Basin has 49.85 miles of shared-use paths with Dollar Creek (2.2 miles), Sand Harbor to Incline Village (3 miles), Ski Run Blvd. to El Dorado Beach (just under 1 mile), and Incline Way in Washoe County (.3ish miles) currently under construction. Looking ahead, the Regional plan calls for another 25.71 miles over the next five years.
Numerous reports and studies have carefully documented bike path benefits to include a community’s livability to the local economy.
Bike paths can be associated with higher property value when a trail provides easy access to schools, shopping districts and recreational resources from neighborhoods. When a trail offers convenient neighborhood opportunities for physical activity and safe alternatives to using an automobile, property value increases because of the added lifestyle value, and local governments receive more property tax revenue.
Retail businesses also benefit from increased sales. A recent site visit by Ty Polastri, president of Bike Tahoe, to Long Beach and Davis California saw auto parking spaces converted into “bike corrals” – a dedicated parking space for bikes only. He shared that a bike corral of just one converted auto parking space can accommodate 12 bicycles as opposed to one vehicle. He also noted that retailers with bike corrals in front of their business experienced an increase in business and a cultural shift of the type of customer – a customer who spent more time and dollars at their business.
Environmental benefits are also present when bicycling is an alternative transportation mode.
Bike path use contributes to air quality improvements with the reduction of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, and greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. Lake Tahoe water quality suffers from automobile use. Gas emissions fall from the sky and enter the Lake stimulating algae growth. Air-born particulates released into the atmosphere, from vehicles pulverizing road debris, also fall into the Lake increasing cloudiness and water temperature – stimulating more algae growth.
According to the Center for Disease Control 36.5 percent of the U.S. adults and 17 percent of youth are obese. Obesity is a chronic health problem and one of the biggest factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer – many that are otherwise preventable.
Neighborhood bike paths can provide a convenient way to help develop a fit active lifestyle and reduce obese associated health costs, over $150 billion annually, on society and the employers.
In the United States 50 percent of all auto trips taken are three miles or less and yet most Americans drive to even the closest destinations. Only three percent of commuting trips in the U.S. are by bicycle, compared to up to 60 percent in The Netherlands. [footnote]National Household Travel Survey[/footnote]
Here in Tahoe most bike paths either pass through or are adjacent to high concentrations of residential areas, commercial lodging properties, schools and shopping areas. According to Polastri, in South Lake Tahoe it is just five miles from Stateline to the “Y” with nearly flat terrain the entire distance. He goes on to say this is also true in Tahoe City and Incline Village making biking to work, school or for play from home or lodging highly feasible and beneficial to the “triple bottom line” (environment, economy and community).
Helping mitigate some of these health and environmental impacts is a campaign lead by Bike Tahoe in collaboration with the Nevada Commission on Tourism. It is a campaign encouraging more bicycle use among residents, businesses and visitors. One of the campaign’s key elements is a series of bicycling videos freely available for use by any business, agency, and organization or public.
The most recent video available for downloading and sharing is Bike Path Cruising. It highlights some of the most popular bike paths traveling through the residential and commercial corridors of South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City, California and Genoa, Nevada.
Additional videos are available for viewing and downloading by visiting Bike Tahoe’s web site at www.biketahoe.org. Polastri states more video releases are coming throughout the summer months. For notices about new videos, events and stories people can sign up for the Bike Tahoe newsletter or “Like” its WeBikeTahoe Facebook page.