Want us in your city? Build protected bike lanes, entrepreneur says

October 7, 2013

Mary Lauran Hall, Alliance for Biking & Walking

Jeff Judge of Signal.

Working in a city with comfortable bike lanes is so important to Jeff Judge that when his business was weighing a relocation, his first bit of research was the bike lane network near his potential new headquarters.

Judge recently weighed moving his marketing startup from Chicago to Boston when a Massachusetts-based company approached him about acquisition.

“The first thing I looked at was what the bike infrastructure is like in Boston,” said Judge. “It’s so important to me. … Cities that invest in biking infrastructure are going to win. It’s better for business. It’s better for planning. It’s better for infrastructure. It’s better all around.”

Judge’s company is Signal, a marketing platform for small businesses. His small team works out of 1871, a coworking space for digital startups in downtown Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

“We’re close to many protected bike lanes downtown,” explained Judge, who rides in Chicago’s new protected bike lanes on his commute to work. “For me and for my employees, it makes a big difference.”

As Judge sees it, protected bike lanes are great for businesses that choose to locate downtown. “They’re good for general health of the employees,” he said. “People work long hours, and it’s great to be out running, riding, walking. It encourages physical health and makes workers more mobile.”

Judge noted that many skilled technology workers, faced with employment options in many parts of the country, are lured to coastal or mountainous cities because of their proximity to outdoor activity.

“It’s a recruiting tactic for companies from the West Coast,” he offered. “‘Come here and you can go snowboarding on your lunch break!'” But for cities that lack natural resources that readily lend themselves to outdoor industry, world-class bicycle infrastructure can be a powerful lure. “With Chicago, cycling is important,” said Judge. “We take advantage of what we can do.”

This post is part of a collaboration between the Green Lane Project and the Alliance for Biking and Walking to document the ways better bike lanes are building prosperity around the United States. For more excerpts and the full report later this month, you can follow us on Twitter or Facebook sign up for weekly emails of our latest news here.

Correction:¬†An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the considerations around Signal’s possible relocation.

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