Can the bicycle save the high street?

Following an article we published in March, Why cyclists are better customers for local businesses, we recently came across another article that also found that cyclists and pedestrians tend to spend more money in local economies.

According to TreeHugger, both Portland, Oregon and New York’s East Village have found that streets that promote cycling and walking achieve more business for local shops and restaurants.

New bike lanes in the East Village have lead to an increase in cycling, with nearly a quarter of residents reporting biking for their transportation needs. According to a report from Transportation Alternatives, cyclists, pedestrians and public transport users spent 95% of retail dollars in the area studied.

The research supports this not only in densely populated areas (such as New York’s East Village) but also in the lesser populated city of Portland, Oregon. Key research in Portland found that most people still travelled by car, with drivers spending more at supermarkets and restaurants. But it was found that walkers, bikers and public transport users visit the locations more frequently, and over the space of a month, spent more.

Of late, there has been a significant push around the world to re-invigorate local ‘high streets’, who are struggling under the pressure of large shopping malls and the inconvenience of parking – either due to lack of availability, or the cost (depending on who you listen to). It seems that perhaps the answer is not to abolish paid parking, or increase car turnover, but potentially to promote a much great pedestrianisation of the area, and encourage users to ride bicycles to their local shops and high streets.

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