FAQ: Impact of cycling facilities on property values

Portland residential protected bike lane
Protected bike lane in Portland neighbourhood

In cities that first embark on implementation of cycling facilities – whether on-road bike lanes or off-road multi-use paths or trails, local residents often speak out in concern for their property value. This concern is quickly put to rest once the cycling facilities are in place. Savvy Realtors now actively promote the value of cycling facilities, trails and greenways that make a neighbourhood more bike and walk friendly.

Updated March 30, 2016 with this new, compelling research including detailed case studies that clearly document the positive impact of active mobility facilities on real estate value. Read about the Urban Planning Institute report.

Cycling facilities, trails and greenways have a neutral to significantly positive impact on both property values as well as ease of sale.

One of the earliest studies was published in Vancouver in 1999, as part of that city’s cycling plan update.  The study surveyed Realtors and found that, “The results of the realtor survey indicate that 85% of realtors feel that bicycle routes are an amenity to the community around them and that 65% of them would use the route as a selling feature of the home.”

Another interesting finding was that, “Residents were asked to rate the livability of their street. Of the 1671 responses to this question, 38% of respondents felt that the livability of the street had increased since the bikeway had been implemented. Of the remaining responses, 47% felt that the livability of the street had not changed, while 15% felt that it had

Now, remember that was Vancouver in 1999, before the large-scale renaissance of urban utility cycling.

Fast forward a decade. In 2011, Boston Magazine ran a piece on Bikes, Bike Paths, and Home Values which reflected back and said, “there has been research on the effects on property of bike paths/lanes, a cousin to bike-sharing programs. Basically, the verdict is that they can only help the value of adjacent or nearby property. In 2002, the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders surveyed 2,000 home buyers and found that a path for biking, walking or jogging was ‘the second most important neighborhood amenity’ for them, behind only highway access.”

“It is clear that people value these lifestyle issues: walkability, bike-ability, and proximity to centers.”

And let’s look at this 2013 report from Atlanta.  “REMAX Around Atlanta’s Maura Neill, a realtor who has specialized in the Atlanta market for more than 12 years, believes new bike lanes serve as a serious selling point that extends beyond individual property owners and makes Atlanta an attractive urban dwelling post on the national scale.”

These articles are just a few of easily-found hundreds that have appeared in various newspapers and trade journals for over a decade.  While the trend is positive and generally acknowledged by Realtors, there are no definitive longitudinal studies to balance the cross-sectional studies and case examples.

Savvy Realtors understand the trend though – in the USA the body of knowledge in the real estate trade is such that the National Association of Realtors published a field guide in July 2015 to educate Realtors on the value of locations with enhanced active mobility features.

What are the benefits?  The various articles and studies referenced in the field guide suggest anywhere from neutral to 10%, depending entirely upon the unique context of a listing.

Is this a US-only trend? Occasional articles from larger centres like Vancouver, Victoria, Ottawa, and Montreal suggest not. As in other trades, the Canadian real estate sector seems a bit slower to capitalize on the trend, although the rising presence of the National Association Of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) may help that.

For a street like Laurier Blvd that started out as a quiet residential street and has become a busy urban corridor over time, property values have likely been held back as the neighbourhood lost family appeal. The addition of a protected bike lane and its traffic calming effects should slowly return the streetscape to one that’s family-friendly. As the street’s desirability increases, so will resale values.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.