A new study by Portland State University shows that walkable and bikeable neighborhoods are good for local businesses. The study showed that, while drivers spent more at supermarkets, walkers and bicyclists spent more at other local businesses. The study, which surveyed about 20,000 Portlanders in neighborhoods where there is good bike and pedestrian infrastructure, concluded that, Drivers spent more per visit, but bicyclists and walkers made more frequent visits and tended to spend more per month.
It also reinforces the findings of a recent New York City Department of Transportation study that found significant sales increases for businesses on streets with protected bike lanes. The conclusions of these studies confirm what most bicyclists know intuitively. You’re more likely to stop by a pizza shop, coffee shop, or bakery when you’re walking or riding by than if you’re driving by at 35 MPH. Moreover, this makes sense from a macro-economic perspective, too. Consumers who spend less money on gas every month because they’re not driving as much have more disposable income to spend at local stores.
Such data is important to counteract the resistance some business owners have to, say, remove on-street parking to make room for a bike lane, cycle track, or bike corral (shown above). It also reinforces the economic benefits of reallocating public space from cars to alternative transportation, such as walking, biking, and public transit.
Just one more reason rethinking our public space for walkability and bikeability makes good sense.