In Washington D.C., where biking has doubled in popularity since 2009, commuter choices are producing wide-reaching effects. Professionals are giving up the ‘burbs and highways and opting instead for their bikes to get to work. If the bike traffic jams weren’t proof enough, the change in the real estate market is. Developers are unloading their once popular, but now empty, suburban office spaces (even taking multi-million dollar losses for them), in order to switch over to more urban properties. What makes a desirable property? Proximity to neighborhood features, in part, but the real key is transportation accessibility.
According to the Washington Post, even the most seasoned of realtors in the district are changing their eye, noting the increased importance of proximity to metro stations and bike lanes. Robert Milkovich, chief executive of a top Bethesda real estate firm told the Post he is, “just continually amazed at how many people are commuting around downtown by bicycle . . . I don’t think that was the case even five years ago.” Businesses are trading space and even smaller pricetags for more centralized locations and transportation choices. In LOCUS’ Foot Traffic Ahead: 2016 report on walkable urbanism, they note that in places like D.C., “the WalkUPs [Walkable Urban Places] in each of the 30 metros examined were found to have gained office, retail and rental multi-family market share against drivable sub-urban competition in the current real estate cycle, the first time we have seen this in almost 60 years.”
There is a clear tide change occurring not just in D.C., but across the country. Hopefully this will push smaller cities to increase alternative transportation infrastructure and accessibility as well. For those outside of central D.C., the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is helping to promote biking in the metro area, Arlington and Alexandria have bike share programs, and Montgomery County recently approved a network of protected bike lanes.