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.