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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cyclists and Pedestrians Can End Up Spending More Each Month Than Drivers [The Atlantic]


Kelly Clifton has heard this stereotype a number of times: "Cyclists are just a bunch of kids who don’t have any money," says the professor of civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University. "They ride their bikes to a coffee shop, they sit there for four hours with their Macintoshes, they’re not really spending any money."
If you’re a shopkeeper with such suspicions, you’re probably not on board with any plan that would cut down on parking right outside your door. Cyclists are the ones with time to kill; drivers are the ones with money.
This perception is problematic in a place like Portland, where the bike-friendly city government is now looking to extend the reach of bike infrastructure – and the appeal of bikes themselves – to newer riders and neighborhoods farther afield from the urban core. "As we move out beyond those areas into more auto-oriented areas," Clifton says, "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?"
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.

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