The property developer and bicycle transport.

Since the publication of Cycle-Space in 2012, I have been speaking to governments and peak bodies all around the world about Bicycle Oriented Development (BOD). Having laid that groundwork my consultancy firm, Cycle Space International, is looking for property developers to lobby on behalf of. We want to help developers rezone land adjoining quality bike infrastructure, as part of their plans to fund infrastructure improvements and provide bicycle parking inside of apartments.

As well as the obvious benefit to developers (who after all, are the ones who pay for our time) cities stand to gain too. Cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen that have housing that generates bike trips (dense with minimal garaging) are healthier, greener and better connected. (Our most cutting edge work is out of our Amsterdam office where we are working toward unprecedented levels of convenience in bike-friendly design.)

The bar is much lower elsewhere in the world, and thus more easy to raise. Neither is the work without precedent. Consider the following case studies. Cycleways (not light rail lines) have been the catalysts for rezoning land beside the Atlanta BeltLine and the Minneapolis Midtown Greenway. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is sprouting starchitecture in otherwise featureless parts of Hells Kitchen. Amsterdam has shelved plans for a tram service because 68% of all trips to centre are being happily made via bike. A giant apartment development in Copenhagen is organised around a ramping gallery meaning cyclists can ride from their penthouse apartments all the way to the ground.

What is bicycle transport? In Australia in the 1940s bicycle transport was simply transport. In parts of Northern Europe that’s still the case. It is how children go to school, how people go shopping, how people go to the train to reach the next town, and how people go to the office if they live within 5 or 10km of the city. Women, children and seniors are better represented than middle aged men.

Now all cities are trending that way. Health and environmental consciousness are two factors, health because people who cycle a little are healthier than people who walk a lot, and environmental consciousness because one fifth of emissions are related to driving.

However, the most immediate factor is congestion. As cities become denser road and rail transport slows down. Turning to our cities’ networks of cycleways along waterfronts, defunct rail corridors and through parks, people find a faster and more uplifting way to make daily trips.

Recognising development and rezoning implications. Orienting development around bike infrastructure is the next logical step. The arguments in favour are overwhelming. Arguments against can all be debunked, or ameliorated through more thoughtful design of cycling environments and beginning and end of trip bike parking facilities. We literally wrote the book on these concepts and are the go-to people for policy guidance.

Factors we consider when appraising sites for rezoning or density and parking concessions are: topography (flatlands are better); proximity to bicycle networks; comfort of those networks (separation from cars, shade, weather protection, etc.); the average distance to jobs and destinations for those using bike networks; impacts on neighbouring properties; and future modelling.

One of the ways we help cities understanding their Bicycle Oriented Development futures is by mapping the extent of available land and non-vehicular easements.

Expediting Development Consent: The town planning community has woken up to bike transport. They are inspired by Paris and New York’s turn to bike transport. They have heard the message from famous speakers like Jan Gehl and Enrique Peñalosa. Cycling is the new tool in making cities liveable, safe, healthy and happy. Our early involvement in the design process and the supporting documentation we can provide will smooth the passage of any development that incentivises bicycle transport.

Market Demand: A trend that began with office tenants demanding secure bike rooms, then developers making selling features of bike cleaning areas, is becoming a broad market demand. Impact investors, development cooperatives and student housing providers are upping the anti. The “ageing actively” demographic and affordable housing market are not far behind. The bottom line is that as traffic slows down and as cycleways are improved, people living in or near to the city will have more use for a bike than a car. If the 5-star bike parking facilities in office buildings are any guide, competition will rise to build the most bike friendly buildings. Our internationally published research and design work explores the outer limits of bike friendly design. Wherever your next development falls on that spectrum we can ensure it meets the expectations of tenants and buyers.

Like to Know More? We are currently in the process of identifying impact investors and reputable developers to work with. The information in this post is provided for the benefit of our blog readers, that include planners and influential bike advocates. We welcome your efforts to share this post via your networks.

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