Great Allegheny Passage Bike Path Bringing Economic Growth

cycling on a bike path image

Cycling/Hiking Path Brings Economic Growth
We've seen that cycling can reap tremendous economic rewards, for instance by by saving Australia $200 million a yearin health care costs. Well, it turns out that even in car-loving, bike-averse America, the same holds true. As a case in point, The Great Allegheny Passage--"a 150-mile system of biking and hiking trails that will connect Cumberland, MD and Pittsburgh, PA when completed"--aside from being an excellent source of recreation and sightseeing, is also "generating $12.5 million in revenue and pouring more than $3 million in wages into trail-side communities."

In fact, one study found that "31 new businesses started as a direct result of the Great Allegheny Passage." Many of these businesses--restaurants, hotels and bike stores--are located in small towns that benefit tremendously from the economic development. And unlike the arrival of big box stores, these new businesses are helping revitalize towns all along the trails, bringing in new residents and development. Given that in 2008 alone, one million people are expected to bike, walk or hike on the Passage--up from 350,000 in 2002--this kind of smart development should continue.

A Story of Smart Growth
What I love about this story is that it demonstrates how projects can be good for communities, environmental protection and business. So many great projects are waylaid by claims that they are too costly, yet it is becoming increasingly clear that the payback from investments in bike paths, public transportation and urban infill, to name a few examples, reap numerous benefits in the long-run. Especially with energy costs on the rise, a new paradigm is emerging in which smart growth is the only sensible approach. The Great Allegheny Passage is great for everyone: visitors and locals who get to enjoy a beautiful trail, business owners who are seeing a surge in business, and residents who are enjoying new investment in their towns. This is a model for 21st century development, and we should see this model become the norm in the U.S. in the coming decades.

Via: ::PostGazette and
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