News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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October 31, 2013

Being bike-friendly good for community says bike group

TERRE HAUTE — “How biking and walking can save the world.”

That was the topic of one of the sessions at the 2013 “Our Green Valley Conference” Thursday, held at the campus of Indiana State University and organized by Our Green Valley Alliance for Sustainability.

Presenter Nancy Tibbett, executive director of Bicycle Indiana, said that biking is good for business, jobs, health and tourism.

On the business side, it is more than just a benefit for bicycle shops.

Tibbett presented research from other communities showing that people on bike and foot spend more money per week, which leads to more retail sales.

And being a bike-friendly community can also bring in jobs.

“On the jobs, our message there is that building bike ped projects is actually creating more jobs than just building road projects,” Tibbett said.

“We’re trying to battle a misconception that people have that it is … bringing less dollars into the community, and it’s actually not,” she added.

Closely related are tourism benefits.

“Bike touring, in particular, is a billion dollar industry,” she said.

Another important part of the presentation was a discussion of health.

Tibbett’s co-presenter, Lindsey Bouza of the Indiana State Department of Health, discussed Hoosiers’ inactive lifestyles, among other topics.

She showed data that children no longer walk to school as many of their parents have done in the past. About 48 percent of children walked or biked to school in 1969 and only 13 percent did in 2009, she said.

Part of the reason is parents’ “perception of fear,” that their children may be victimized by crime, Bouza said.

“But there are ways to work around that perception of fear,” she said.

These benefits and suggestions were heard by some of Terre Haute’s leaders.

Council member Todd Nation (D-4th) and his father, Fred, a former mayoral candidate, were among the attendees.

“I think that there’s a lot of information here on how government can make Terre Haute better,” Todd Nation said.  

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.

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