Published on December 21st, 2012 | by James Ayre3
Bicyclists Are Better For Local Economies Than Cars Are, Study Finds
Many people assume that bicyclists are cheap and that having bike lanes located near their businesses won’t benefit them as much as extra parking would, but a newly released study from the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium directly contradicts that. Bike riders directly out-consumed automobile drivers during the course of the month-long study on everything except for groceries.
The government in the already bike-friendly city Portland is currently planning to extend bicycle infrastructure into neighborhoods far from the urban core of the city. But that creates a problem, says Kelly Clifton: “[a]s we move out beyond those areas into more auto-oriented areas, we start to see businesses say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. You’re taking away on-street parking to put in bike lanes, you’re taking away the one parking spot in front of my store to put in a bike corral. I don’t see many bikers around here. So what does this mean for me?’”
The majority of customers for most stores arrive via automobile transportation, but the new study has found that these customers visit less and overall spend less than the minority traffic provided by bikers and pedestrians.
“This finding is logical,” says Emily Badger of The Atlantic Cities. “It’s a lot easier to make an impulse pizza stop if you’re passing by an aromatic restaurant on foot or bike instead of in a passing car at 35 miles an hour.” This doesn’t extend to groceries though, where carrying capacity limits how much bikers and pedestrians can purchase.
The study was done by surveying 1,883 people as they exited convenience stores, restaurants, and bars; and a further 19,654 people as they left supermarkets. “There are obviously some other factors at play here,” admits Badger. “Families with cars are less likely to eat out than single young professionals on a bike. And we’d all prefer that drivers run up smaller bar tabs than pedestrians.” The researchers bring up the possibility that one factor that goes into the increased consumption of the bikers is the money that they save on fuel and other car-related fees.