Do you want to know one of the secrets to boosting downtown commerce? According to a recent article in the DC Streets blog written by Tanya Snyder the answer is to create a bicycle friendly business district. Cities such as Long Beach have already taken notice on the positive impact that cyclists can have on the local economy.
Everyone knows that cyclists travel at a slower pace than drivers. But what you may not realize is that their slow pace makes cyclists more likely to notice a new store downtown or a sale sign. Cyclists are also more likely to shop locally since most of them live nearby. Merchants in Long Beach have found a way to capture this clientele by offering discounts to cyclists on Saturdays.
Another reason cyclists are better customers than drivers is because they have extra cash that is not spent on car expenses. April Economides, Long Beach's Bike Friendly Business District coordinator, explains that being car-free gives cyclists an extra $6,000 to spend when cruising downtown. AAA suggests that the savings are even higher--$8,776. In Snyder's article she also points out that "only 16% of household car expenses stay within the local economy".
Take a look at some other surprising figures found in Snyder's article on the positive impact that cyclists have on the local economy:
- The opening of the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville, Colorado led to a 19% increase in sales tax revenues, helping the city recover from a mine closure in 1999.
- The 45-mile long Washington & Old Dominion Trail in the D.C. suburbs brings an estimated $7 million into the northern Virginia economy, nearly a quarter of that from out-of-towners.
- Downtown Dunedin, Florida was suffering a 35% storefront vacancy rate until an abandoned CSX railroad track became the Pinellas Trail. Storefront occupancy is now 100%.
- Properties near bike paths increase in value 11%, said Economides. Realtors and homebuilders consistently find that access and proximity to walking and biking facilities, especially greenways, makes homes easier to sell.