It is widely accepted that cycling offers health and environmental benefits but few people would believe that two wheels can also bring economic rewards - until now.
For years shop owners have been key opponents to converting city centers into cycle-only zones, believing that business would be lost if traffic from motorists declines. However the European Cyclist Federation (ECF) has recently disproved this theory with the findings of a recent study. Since it is easier for cyclists to stop, shop, and crucially, spend, the ECF concluded that cyclists actually have a positive impact on the local economy across Europe. Consequently they believe it would be wise to put cycling high on the urban mobility agenda:
“Changing cities to suit bicycles, not cars, will not reduce business…in fact additional revenue and business brought in by cyclists will more than offset the lost revenue from car drivers. Cyclists tend to shop more and spend more money when they do. Increasing cycling can only be beneficial to local retailers.”
“They would say that”, we hear your inner motorist mutter, however the facts really do back it up. In Copenhagen, for example, the revenue created by cyclists outsizes that created by cars (2.05 billion EUR for cyclists, 2.04 billion EUR for car drivers), while in
France, a survey in 6 cities found that cyclists spend more money per week in shops than car drivers (24.35 EUR for cyclists, 21.65 EUR for car drivers). And here in the UK? Expenditure figures are less clear, but the study did reveal that in Bristol retailers overestimated the share of car-drivers among their customers by almost 100 per cent, believing that 41 per cent of customers would travel to their store by car, when it was actually only 22 per cent, with 10 per cent of customers travelling by bike. It’s clear that certain myths need to be debunked.
Let’s also not forget that cycling creates jobs – more than 650,000 jobs in the EU are linked to the sector. In addition, cycling is thought to drastically reduce mortality rates, greenhouse gas emissions, and noise pollution as well as easing congestion. There are social benefits too, from greater interaction, less dangerous roads and a stronger sense of community.
With the urban population increasingly rising, bicycle use may well be the key to making cities more livable spaces – we think that perhaps it’s time that more emphasis was put on creating bicycle-friendly places.
Read more here and here.
Author: Sarah Moor