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Cyclists And Pedestrians Better For Business Than Drivers

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 05

People who cycle or walk spend less per visit, but visit many more times per month at local business. If you own a local business, put some bike racks out front, and watch your sales go up!  (read the entire article here)

Their findings are neatly summarized in these three graphs. This first one shows how much consumers spent on average per trip, by transportation mode:

Here, people estimated how many trips they took per month:

And this is the total estimate of consumer spending per month:

Until now there hasn’t been much empirical evidence to allay such concerns. Clifton and several colleagues have attempted to fill that research gap in a project for the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (read a PDF of the draft report here). They surveyed 1,884 people walking out of area convenience stores, restaurants and bars, and another 19,653 who’d just done their supermarket shopping. Some of the results are unsurprising: Drivers still make up a plurality of customers to all of these businesses. And, with greater trunk capacity, they far outspend people who travel to the grocery store by foot, bike or transit.

But for all of the other business types examined, bikers actually out-consumed drivers over the course of a month. True, they often spent less per visit. But cyclists and pedestrians in particular made more frequent trips (by their own estimation) to these restaurants, bars and convenience stores, and those receipts added up. This finding is logical: 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. Such frequent visits are part of the walkable culture. Compare European communities – where it’s common to hit the bakery, butcher and fish market on the way home from work – to U.S. communities where the weekly drive to Walmart’s supermarket requires an hour of dedicated planning.

“It’s not just a phenomenon born of the need to carry things,” Clifton says. Walkable (and bikeable) communities by definition facilitate a more frequent interaction between patrons and businesses. This means these bikers and pedestrians are also more regular customers. “That also says something about marketing,” Clifton says, “about customer loyalty, about neighborhood-based businesses.”


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