My name is Bob Fisch, and I am the Chief Bike Fun Officer of Poky Pedaling Stevens Point.
Tonight, I would like to speak to you about how building quality bicycle infrastructure is linked to job creation.
Successful companies want to hire young adults who are members of what is termed the creative class. Among the tendencies of this population is a strong preference for walking and bicycling instead of driving. This new generation wants to live, work, and shop in vibrant places that prioritize building for people instead of building for cars.
In order to hire these sorts of people, companies are discovering that they need to be located in the types of vibrant places where these young adults want to live. Companies located in urban areas which prioritize automobiles find themselves struggling to hire from this coveted population.
As cities across the US compete to attract jobs, many have decided that building quality bicycle infrastructure is key. This is one ingredient to creating a vibrant urban area which appeals to the creative class and therefore encourages the relocation of companies who want to hire them.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, in discussing his success in building a separated bike lane running the length of The Loop on Dearborn St, said that he not only wants to take all the bicycle riders from Seattle and Portland, but he wants all the jobs that come with them. [Reference: “A Great Day in Chicago: protected lanes open in the heart of the Loop”, Grid Chicago, 12/14/2012]
Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis, at this year’s National Bike Summit in Washington DC, spoke of how bike lanes have attracted young people and have had a positive economic impact on his city. [Reference: “National Bike Summit Recap”, Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, 3/8/2013; for more context, also see “A Conversation with Greg Ballard”, Bicycling Magazine]
Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis said, quote, “bicycling is definitely part of our strategy to attract and retain businesses in order to compete in a mobile world.” [Reference: “Bicycling means better business”, Green Lane Project, 10/18/2012]
Stevens Point is unlikely to be competing with these cities for jobs, but we are certainly competing with cities of comparable size to ourselves.
We are fortunate to have quality educational institutions in our city, but we need to do better in encouraging graduates to remain as they begin their careers and start their families.
By making Stevens Point more vibrant, we can inspire creative class workers to live here, thereby attracting businesses who want to hire them. Mayors throughout the US understand that creating quality bicycle infrastructure is critical for this.
Economically, Stevens Point is at a crossroads. Decisions of our Common Council will determine our trajectory. We can become more like Minneapolis. Or we can become more like Detroit.
As you contemplate your future votes that will affect our transportation network, I implore you to remember that cities which are quick to react to the dynamics of job creation in this new millenium will succeed over their counterparts. Such action must include building quality bicycle infrastructure that is safe, comfortable, and convenient for everybody – children, young adults, growing families, empty nesters, and the eldery.
A transcript of these and my past comments to Common Council can be found on my website, PokyPedalingStevensPoint.org, under the Speak Your Poky menu bar item.
Thank you for listening.