One of the reasons I like walking or biking, besides the physical benefits, is the slightly slower pace. Having walked the mountain trails, biked their paths, and driven their roads, I can definitely say that driving through is the least fulfilling. Besides, bikers and pedestrians generate no pollution. “Stop and smell the roses” could also be the reason that a study in Oregon found bikers and pedestrians are much better consumers than drivers.
According to a recent survey of over 20,000 people coming out of supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, and bars in and around Portland, OR, bikers and pedestrians stop more often and buy more products than drivers. Portland is already a bike friendly city, exhibiting more bike paths, dedicated lanes, and corrals than most other American cities, and is looking to expand these beyond the city limits.
At first, maybe some small businesses may balk at the thought of a bike corral replacing a parking spot, or part of their space taken for a bike lane, but according to the study’s author, Kelly J. Clifton, this could be good for business. According to the report, “monthly expenditures by customer modes of travel reveal that bicyclists, transit users, and pedestrians are competitive consumers and for all businesses except supermarkets, spend more, on average than those who drive.”
This makes sense, because if you’re walking or riding by a restaurant or convenience store, it is more convenient to just walk in instead of hunting for a parking space. In urban areas, biking and walking is just a simpler and easier mode of travel, to the benefit of the small businesses on the route. The only place drivers outspend bikers and pedestrians is the supermarket, where larger quantities of goods are bought.
There are some assumptions that green isn’t business-friendly, which this study turns on its head. Portland’s expansion of biker– and pedestrian-friendly zones is a green model that also has benefits for small businesses.