Mark Niquette | Bloomberg

U.S. cities trying to attract young residents and the businesses that hire them are increasingly finding magic in the bike lane.

With more people pedaling for transportation and recreation, lanes separated from traffic by poles, curbs or other barriers have almost doubled since 2011 and may again by 2016, according to PeopleForBikes, a Colorado advocacy group that tallies them.

There are almost 150 protected lanes in 41 cities with about 200 projects planned, the group said. Municipalities such as New York, Chicago and Memphis are adding lanes, bike-sharing services and other infrastructure for an option prized by many millennials born after 1980 and the technology firms and employers who want their services.

“Young folks are looking for choice,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., a Democrat who has installed 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) of lanes since 2013 with plans for 22 miles by 2016. “The minute they see that, it dispels the notion that Memphis is that city that’s stuck in a time warp way back somewhere.”

Wharton, 69, said that’s a big change from a couple of decades ago, when the few cyclists on Memphis streets would be called “hippies” or “weirdos.” The number of U.S. bicycle commuters increased about 60 percent since 2000 to 786,000 in 2008-2012, a larger percentage increase than that of any other travel mode, according a U.S. Census report in May. Read more