La Crosse city planning says bike paths add value to city neighborhoods

The city of La Crosse wants to make the city’s roads more bike-friendly. Planners said making these changes isn’t just good for cyclists; it’s also good for business and our neighborhoods.

“When the Wisconsin DOT (Department of Transportation) does a project like Jackson Street we will analyze and evaluate whether or not that’s a good candidate for a certain type of bicycle facility or pedestrian upgrade or whatever it may be,” said Jason Gilman, director of city planning and development.

Planning intern Jack Zabrowski said the city ranks second only to Madison when it comes to people biking and walking to work.

“It’s a great place to bike and walk,” Zabrowski said. “It’s very easy, it’s flat. I ride my bike to work every day for convenience. It’s just a really easy thing to do.”

A study in the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration shows that homes in Muskego, Wisconsin, that were located across from bike paths increased their property values by nearly 9 percent.

“When you have immediate access to a recreational amenity or a piece of infrastructure like that, it changes your convenience and the way your home is perceived,” Gilman said.

Gilman said he bikes to work himself and it saves him money.

“I don’t have to fill my car up with gas,” Gilman said. “Every time I’m not putting $50 worth of gasoline in my tank, that’s two bags of groceries.”

He said he wants the community to understand the long-term value these improvements have on the city.

“Filling a pothole has more a short-term return for people, but they see it and recognize it,” Gilman said. “Building a bike lane might have a short-term return but maybe a long-term return as bicycling picks up in the community and there’s an environmental impact and an economic impact.”