May 28 2013

Pedestrians, Cyclists and Public Transit Users: Big Spenders

I often do my shopping by bicycle, but regularly find it difficult to find a safe place to lock my bike on commercial strips in the city.

While some businesses have taken it upon themselves to install bicycle racks, others do not yet see the need to offer safe parking to their cycling clients. However, it is becoming more and more evident that it is important for businesses to cater to their customers who arrive on foot, on bike, or via public transit.


A study came out from Portland, Oregon last year that found that cyclists and pedestrians spend more, averaged over the entire month, than automobile drivers. This is a powerful argument against those who insist that ample parking is vital in order to ensure the economic success of businesses on these commercial strips.

A study done in 2002-2003 by a small urban planning firm in Montréal, Convercité, found that most of the clients of businesses on the city’s commercial streets are neighbourhood residents, ranging from 64-84% on average. Not only are clients local; they come by modes other than a car, including walking, cycling, and public transportation. On average, 81% of clients transport themselves in other ways that cars, including 90% of those on Promenade Masson, 89% of those on Wellington, and  88% of those on Sainte-Catherine Est.

In addition, a study from London found that free parking can actually hurt businesses. First, businesses overestimate the number of people who go to shop in a car. Second, pedestrians and public transit users spent more each month than motorists. Finally, free parking is usually occupied by employees or clients who stay far too long, which reduces the total number of clients and therefore totally profits.

It is a concern, still, that these urban commercial strips are losing out to large mega centers, such as Quartier Dix30, which attracts people who prefer to drive and park close to their shopping destinations.  Parking thus becomes important when businesses attempt to attract their motorized clients to their commercial strips as opposed to power centers on the outskirts of the city.

How do people in your city run their errands - sustainable modes such as walking, cycling and public transit, or by automobile?

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

Devon Paige Willis

Devon Paige Willis is a native Montrealer and recent graduate of McGill University where she did her B.A. in Environment and Political Science. She discovered a passion for urban and transportation planning in her final year, during which time she attended UC Berkeley’s [IN]City introductory urban planning program and completed her honours thesis about cycling in Montreal, specifically measuring bikeability and understanding what affects cyclist satisfaction. She will pursue a Master of Urban Studies called 4Cities starting in September 2013. The Masters takes place in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid and focus on European Urban Planning. She will be focusing on sustainable transportation and is especially interested in urban planning and transportation in suburban environments. She has her own urban planning blog at

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 at 9:23 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “Pedestrians, Cyclists and Public Transit Users: Big Spenders”

  1. Plan Bay Area - its official - Page 5 - City-Data Forum Says:

    [...] people who use transit shop more frequently and spend more at a business during the month/year: Pedestrians, Cyclists and Public Transit Users: Big Spenders | The GRID | Global Site Plans We might as well be accomodating towards all the people who want to spend money with a [...]

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