Wait. That doesn’t make sense. Drivers have trunks that hold more stuff. They can zip around town quicker and hit more stores. How can cyclists spend more money?
Researchers at Portland State University and the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium tested the stereotype that “cyclists are just a bunch of kids who don’t have money,” Kelly Clifton, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Portland State, told Emily Badger of The Atlantic.
In an effort to fill the empirical data gap, Clifton and colleagues surveyed 1,884 people walking out of convenience stores, restaurants and bars around Portland. Additionally, the talked to 19,653 people at supermarkets.
Click here for graphs of the findings.
Some of the results were unsurprising. Drivers made up the majority of customers at all the businesses. And, at the grocery store, they outspent walkers and bikers.
But when it came to convenience stores, restaurants and bars, people who traveled sans motor out-consumed drivers.
The research showed that cyclists spent less per visit, but frequented the locations more often.
There are some factors at play here. Families with cars are less likely to eat out than single professionals on bikes. And I don’t think anyone would complain that drivers are spending less money at bars than pedestrians.
But Clifton mentions are interesting point. Maybe Portland has green dividend. (The concept was coined by economist Joe Cortright.)
Here’s the logic: Cars are expensive. Portland has a healthy green infrastructure that includes reliable public transit, bike lanes and even intersections that give cyclists the space to get a head start on cars and better control the speed of traffic through intersections. It’s easier to live without a car, making the expense more of an option rather than a necessity. “Do we then have more money in our pockets to spend on other things?” Clifton said.
In areas of York, particularly downtown, efforts are being made to make cycling and walking safer and more appealing. The last time I went downtown to eat, I walked the mile from my house. I frequently ride my bike to work, about 4 miles away. But lots of York Countians don’t live where it’s safe to walk to downtown because the roads don’t have sidewalks or are too busy with car traffic.
How do you travel to get to the grocery store, eat out or grab cocktails with friends?