Cycling: the economic benefits

Cycling: the economic benefits

There are many ways the economic impact of bicycling has been and could be measured.

A study in Portland, OR, on consumer behavior by mode share addresses the concern business owners often have when asked to replace car parking with bicycle parking. According to the study, even though bicyclists and pedestrians spend less money per trip, they make more frequent visits to a business throughout a month and end up spending more on average than their car-driving counterparts.

Similar results were found in surveys of people on Polk Street in San Francisco and in Manhattan’s East Village, where pedestrians in San Francisco and both pedestrians and bicyclists in Manhattan were found to spend more money over the course of a week than any other transportation mode.

New York City has employed numerous strategies to make their streets bicycle-friendly, including installing the nation’s first protected bike lane in 2007. The city recently released a report, "Measuring the Street," that highlights some of the benefits seen since making improvements.

Though the methodology for the report has not been made available to the public, its stated findings are quite impressive. Businesses located within an improvement area saw sales increase at higher levels relative to the surrounding area, with up to 172% increase in retail sales at locally-based businesses on Pearl Street in Brooklyn after a pedestrian plaza was constructed. In Union Square North, commercial vacancies fell 49% after a protected bicycle lane was installed.

Other cities have reported similar experiences; for example, Magnolia Street in Fort Worth, TX, experienced a 163% increase in retail sales after a bicycle lane and improved bicycle parking were installed in the area. Bike share was also found to boost local retail sales in the Twin Cities. Research from the University of Minnesota estimates that during one season, customers using the Nice Ride bike share system spend an additional $150,000 at restaurants and other businesses near Nice Ride stations .

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