In the minds of many business owners, though, there’s still a direct correlation between cars and customers. Too often, the opposition to bicycle infrastructure is led by retailers who believe ample car parking space is critical to their customer base. But that belief could be depriving businesses of their best potential patrons: cyclists.
Just this summer, the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives did a travel study in Birchard’s neighborhood, the Lower East Side. They found that only a tiny fraction – just four percent – of customers arrived by car. In contrast, 23 percent arrived by bike. A study of travel patterns in the city center of Utrecht in the Netherlands showed similar results: customers on bikes significantly outnumbered those in cars (26 versus 17 percent). Even individual businesses are taking stock of how customers get to their door. The East End Food Co-Op in Vancouver, BC, conducted a survey that showed that 24 percent of its patrons usually pedaled to the store – more than the number of people who drove.
That’s good news, because a growing body of research shows that people who arrive on two wheels have a bigger impact on the bottom line, too. Recent research out of Portland, OR, showed that cycling customers spent more per month ($75.66) than their car-driving counterparts ($68.56) at bars, restaurants and convenience stores. A 2009 study of Bloor Street in Toronto, ON, found that customers who arrive by foot and bicycle visit the most often and spend the most money per month.