Shopping and cycling - the evidence

This is a 'one off special' for the Embassy's weeekly blog roundup. Today we're trying to gather all the useful things you need to know when someone tells you that cycleways are going to kill your businesses, your shops, or, well, you. 

This week has loads of PDF links because we're in the world of some pretty serious academic papers and reports - while pretty tough stuff to read, they provide a wealth of actionable, reliable data. 

But to make it all more bearable, I've created a Pinterest board(link is external) with a lot of the key infographics I could find. You can see it here(link is external)

Bikes and walking bring more ££ than cars ... businesses over-estimate how many arrive by car ... 

There's now an awful lot of research out there showing that cyclists tend to spend less on each visit, but visit more frequently than drivers (TfL Study - PDF link(link is external)Copenhagen study - PDF link(link is external)2000 study - PDF). In a month in Portland, people cycling and walking  spent more than people driving when they included food and drink (in Citylab(link is external)) And when you ask businesses about how their customers arrive, they invariably over-estimate the percentage who arrive by car. In Graz, Austria they thought 58% of customer arrived by car, but only 32% actually did so (Bristol PDF).  In Oslo in 1992, business owners estimated 40% arrived by car, and 40% by foot or bike; in fact the real figure was closer to 60% by foot or bike, and about 25% by car. (Thomas Krag PDF), 

Residents notice the benefits of cycling facilities ... Infographic heaven ... 

In Manhattan's East Village, a 2012 study (this PDF(link is external)) showed that 55% of visitors arrived by foor or bicycle, and 40% by other public transport, with an unsurprising 95% of all spending attributed to these two groups. The study also notes:

  • - Providing protected cycling facilities resulted in a broader demographic in the area
  • - Residents independently oberserved positive effects in their neighbourhoods

A 2003 report in San Francisco found that adding cycle lanes 'either had no impact on businesses, or improved their sales'. (this PDF(link is external)). And back to Citylab, which has an excellently through report on studies about converting car parking to cycle lanes, with loads of great infographics(link is external).

Bike parking is really good value ... pedestrians usually benefit from well designed facilities ... 

Over in Switzerland, they found (in Bern) that, per square metre of space allocated, bike parking was more profitable than car parking(link is external). (Melbourne had this(link is external) excellent image to maske the samr case.) And the same 2013 article(link is external) in Momentum magazine had these insights:

  • After bike lane installation on 9th St./1st Avenue (New York) retail sales rose at 16 times the general rate in the area
  • 1st and 2nd Ave. (part of the same scheme) had vacancy rates 47% lower than the surrounding area
  • In Washington DC, a survey of bike share users indicated that 83% were more likely to shop somewhere near where they could park a bike
  • In Wichita, one consultant observed abourt cycling facilities "Wide roads act like moats, cutting off one neighbourhood from another. [cycling facilities] stitch that back together again."
  • In Memphis, one business claimed a 50% increase in takings since the introduction of a bike lane

Cycling Christchurch(link is external) picks up a number of these studies, with some excellent graphics, and Smart Growth America(link is external) identifies the wider benefits (in health, etc.) of their 'Complete Streets' project. In Portland, there's a high quality study looking at the economics of consumer behaviour and travel mode choices (PDF here(link is external)) which includes an excellent breakdown (p26) of types of spending and numbers of trips for different types of business. The overall data shows that when you take into account both the value of each trip, and the number of trips - as in the Danish study earlier - cycling was good for most businesses.

Building for cycling improves other stuff ... 

There are also many studies which talk about the overall value that can be derived from investing in cycling - the European Cyclists Federation showcases some here(link is external), NHS Health Scotland has one here(link is external), and the EU hosts a selection of papers here(link is external). (And yes, the Danes are in on the act (PDF here(link is external)) too! 

It's hard to find actual bad news when you mix cycling infrastructure with business ... 

Finally, there's a detailed paper from CTC (PDF here(link is external)), and the nearest we could find to something negative: a report from Surrey(link is external) on how one-off events like RideLondon 100 lack sufficient data for us to be sure of the value they bring for the areas visited. (There's also a paper from Vancouver, but the methodology - calling businesses for their estimates and using almost no primary data - does make the report(link is external) rather suspect.) 

And finally, a huge thank you to Sally(link is external) for the regular blog round-up, and all the other Embassy supporters. Last week I rode across Vauxhall Bridge on CS5: proof that however slowly things seem to be moving, the dedication and drive of campaigners around the country is keeping proper, safe, plesasant cycling on the agenda.