Hartford Business Journal

CT Green Guide Winter 2015

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www.CTGreenGuide.com WINTER 2015 • CONNECTICUT GREEN GUIDE 13 Active Transportation Biking, walking is smart business By Kelly Kennedy B iking and walking for transportation is a way of life all over the world. It was here until car cul- ture took off, but the bike and pedestrian move- ment is regaining solid ground across the U.S. Increasing the number of people who walk and bike has clear benefits for obvious sectors: bike manufactur- ers and retailers sell more bikes; the tourist industry attracts people to places known for their biking and pedestrian friendliness; real estate properties in bike- able and walkable districts command a premium; the construction industry creates jobs through building new greenways, bike lanes and sidewalks. All sectors benefit, though, for several reasons. Sustainability When people replace car trips, they reduce their vehicle miles traveled (VMTs). Fewer VMTs means less pollution. Connecticut sees 85 million VMTs per day, which gener- ates about 40 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emis- sions, according to the Connecticut departments of Trans- portation and Energy & Environmental Protection. We could do something about that. If everyone who lives within five miles of their job left their car at home just once a week and biked to work instead, that would have a huge impact. Kudos to Travelers, Pratt & Whitney, REI, DEEP and other companies for taking on sustainability by becom- ing accredited Bicycle Friendly Businesses. Parking Consider what your company spends on parking. Now imagine a percentage of your workforce didn't drive to work. Encouraging employees to commute by biking or walking (with transit for longer trips) would help businesses put their cash to more productive use. Traffic Sitting in traffic costs us $1.6 billion a year in lost time and fuel, according to ConnDOT. When traffic keeps your employees from getting to work, to meetings or deliver- ing products on time, this is a business problem. Some cities, like Portland, Ore., use biking and walking to combat traffic congestion. Portland built its 300-mile network of bike lanes for the price of one mile of highway. Health Two of three American adults are now overweight or obese, with higher medical and insurance costs as a consequence. Businesses that embrace active transporta- tion would see better employee health, lower absenteeism, lower medical and insurance costs and higher productivity. Recruiting & Competitiveness Millennials eschew places where they have to drive everywhere and sit in traffic. A growing percentage of them don't own cars, don't want to and delay getting a driver's license. Millennials expect to be able to walk and bike safely to their jobs, shopping, services and recreation. Connecticut's lack of bike lane, sidewalk and multiuse path networks that connect to transit, commercial and residen - tial areas makes it hard to recruit and retain Millennials. These are not small things, and they put Connecticut businesses at a competitive disadvantage. A coordinated effort to support a culture of active transportation would be a shrewd, low-cost way to start turning that around. Advocate Corner Kelly Kennedy is executive director of Bike Walk Connecticut, Inc. Learn more at www.bikewalkct.org.

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