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Anu Dhaliwal

Walking and biking towards a better economy in Sonoma

Back in January, the Sonoma County Transportation Authority released Economic Impacts of Walking & Biking in Sonoma County, a report that shows the economic benefits of investing in bicycle and pedestrian amenities in Sonoma County. The findings in this report validate our goal of creating neighborhoods where people can take a pleasant walk down the street to their local shops and safely bike on the roads to where they need to go.

The study breaks down the economic benefits of walking and bicycling into four distinct categories: pedestrians and bicyclists, business, government, and residents. Below are some highlights from the report, which you can read in its entirety here (PDF):

Pedestrians and Bicyclists

  • Users (bicyclists and pedestrians) directly benefit from non-motorized infrastructure, amenities, and program investments
  • Users enjoy physical and mental health benefits associated with alternative mobility options
  • A study determined that Portland, Ore. residents saved nearly $10 million in health care costs from an increase in biking
  • The economic benefit for the user is higher than an automobile dependent traveler since a vehicle is more expensive to maintain


  • Sonoma County is home to many bicycle- and pedestrian-oriented businesses, which show annual revenue between $900,000 and $1.5 million in the County
  • Creating more communities that emphasize walking and biking will encourage people to walk or bike to local establishments, which is good for business
  • Property values also increase when places to eat, drink, and shop are located in places where people can walk and bike


  • When sales go up, sales tax based revenue sources (i.e. Measure M) also go up
  • There is greater cost-savings since less money will be spent on vehicle-oriented infrastructure


  • Job opportunities resulting from bicycle-related manufacturing, retail, and so forth will generate more employment
  • For residents, property values can go up in walkable and bikeable neighborhoods
  • If more people walk or bike, fewer CO2 emissions from cars are in the air and water


Thanks to the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, we now have a better understanding of how pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure can improve Sonoma County’s economy. Greenbelt Alliance urges other counties in the Bay Area to undertake similar studies to see how they can benefit from fostering a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly community.


To enjoy some of the benefits of biking, sign up for our upcoming bike outing in Santa Rosa.


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