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My turn, Jackie Miller: Protected bike lanes good for Salisbury

By Jackie Miller

A biking community is a healthy community.

The images of becoming a healthier community are dancing in my head like a kid jumping around in a candy store. I remember the holiday seasons filled with shoppers loading up those newly chosen bikes for their children’s Christmas morning joy. That’s not to mention the gleam in big bright eyes unwrapping a large birthday gift to find a beautiful shiny bike behind all the colorful ribbons. Thoughts of bikes are often associated with the joys of children riding with brothers and sisters and neighborhood friends.

Surprise, biking isn’t just for kids. More and more adults are biking around the nation. Biking to work, to the malls, to college, to the grocery store, for exercise or just for fun.

People want to bike more, but they can’t because of safety concerns. Often kids and adults do not have safe places to enjoy biking. Cities across the country are now engaging in a new revolution of protected biking lanes. Protected biking lanes are beneficial to both car drivers and cyclists leading to declines in fatalities.

The installation of protected biking lanes can reduce congestion and road rage.

Salisbury could benefit from the installation of protected biking lanes throughout the city.

Any mention of change will always be met with opposition. Opponents of protected biking lanes are not opposing bikes or protected biking lanes. It’s about their fear of change. They fear things will be different than what they are used to. They resist changes that might make their neighborhoods different than how they want to continue to view their neighborhood. Any improvements to the city will ignite opposition in those people who fear change. Changes are often perceived threats to those fighting and fearing change.

Some benefits to protected biking lanes include economic growth, a healthier community and a more collaborative community.

When we take a look at the economic growth that protected biking lanes could bring to Salisbury, it’s astounding. Research has shown that cities with protected biking lanes have seen an increase in home values, storefront exposure and sales. In some cities, home values increased for every quarter-mile of biking lanes. Also, in cities, local businesses saw an increase in sales by 49%. After San Francisco added protected biking lanes in the city, local businesses saw an increase in sales by as much as 66%.

Salisbury local businesses could benefit from the increased visibility and sales that protective biking lanes could bring.

College students would be able to safely bike throughout the city. Stay-at-home moms could enjoy safely biking with the kids.

Families, workers, the aging population, students and any cyclist could safely bike throughout the city.

Imagine Catawba, Rowan-Cabarrus, Livingstone College and other students biking to shopping, dining and doctor’s appointments.

Some companies are looking to bring their businesses to communities with protected biking lanes. These companies understand that a biking community is a healthy community. Companies understand that bikers who commute to work are healthier and more productive. Organizations also see a decrease in health care costs and sick leave. Absenteeism from sick leave in organizations have decreased by 32% from bike commuters.

Biking can lead to a variety of health benefits. Cardiovascular fitness, decreased stress levels, weight and disease management are among the many benefits of cycling. Fewer emissions due to more people cycling instead of driving helps with breathing cleaner air and improved lung functioning. Some researchers have suggested biking may reduce risks of bowel and breast cancer. Now, who doesn’t want to live healthier and longer?

The bottom line is adding protected biking lanes results in positive outcomes for the communities in which we live.

It is evident how good protected biking lanes could be for Salisbury.

Jackie Miller has a doctorate in psychology. She specializes in conflict resolution, meditation and workplace bullying.

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