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Cycling boosts local economies

ERIK SANDBLOM 2012-09-12        #20414

Nordstan in central Göteborg is Scandinavia's biggest shopping center. It has 60% more revenue than the suburban Frölunda Torg, even though it has 10% fewer car parking spots

Motorists like to point out that they pay a lot of tax, and it's true. In Europe, half the price of gasoline is made up of taxes. So, the reasoning goes, if people drive less the government's revenue will dry up. But it's not that simple, because if people drive less the money will likely end up somewhere else, like at the hairdresser's or at the local restaurant. And as half the price of gas consists of taxes, the other half goes to the oil industry. Motorists also send money to the car manufacturer, which usually is a company far away.

So reducing car traffic can be a way of rerouting this money to the local economy. In today's globalised, financially unstable world this is worth a closer look.

Most towns want the national government to pay for fancy highway bypasses which will shift traffic away from the inner city. They also want to attract big-box shopping centers for the extra jobs and tax revenue. But in the long run, bypasses just lead to more driving. Generic shopping centers in the periphery lack uniqueness and are vulnerable to changing trends.

It might be better for the town authority to say no to national road projects, stop enforcing parking minimums and invest in cycling instead. It's not just much less expensive. It also makes it easier for local businesses to compete for consumers' money, when the money isn't being siphoned off in the globalised car industry. In 2011, Swedes spent 1700 euros per capita on gasoline and diesel. The local businesses wouldn't mind seeing some of that cash.

Cycling as transport is a realistic alternative to driving. In Britain, Germany and Sweden, between half and a third of car journeys are shorter than five kilometers. In Sweden, half the population lives within 5 km of work and two-thirds of customers travel under 5 km for groceries. That takes 20 minutes by bike.

Encouraging local trade is good in many ways. In a globalised, financially turbulent world it's good to have a stable local economy that can weather sudden turns. For economics isn't just about capital, interest and wages. It's also about relationships and trust. If people don't trust each other, there won't be any deals. A good way to build trust is to talk, and that's most easily done with people nearby. Local networks can function even if the banks crash.

There are also more concrete advantages with cycling. Cyclists are good customers. They shop somewhat less than motorists per visit, but per square meter it's the opposite. If you include space for parking, motorists shop less per square meter because car parking takes up so much space. Each spot takes 25 square meters including space to turn in and out of the spot. So more cycling will increase revenue per square meter.

Cyclists are good employees too. They are healthier, have fewer sick days and live longer.

A lot of private sector money is tied up in parking regulations. Typically, municipal parking minimums for commercial buildings require that the amount of parking space is equal to the amount of floor space. That means that half of every property is given over to parking. In urban areas where rents are high but car use is low, eliminating this requirement is an easy way of lowering costs while at the same time reducing congestion. For residential use, removing parking minimums is an easy way of providing more affordable housing.

Sources:

Department for Transport. National Travel Survey 2010 Table NTS0308
 56% of car journeys are shorter than five miles and a quarter are shorter than two miles.

Berlin, Braunschweig, Freiburg, Herzogenaurach, Kiel gewinnen Kampagne für klimafreundliche Mobilität. Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit
Die Hälfte aller Autofahrten liegt unter sechs Kilometern Fahrstrecke.

De flesta rör sig inom tio kilometer - Ecoprofile Sverige

Parkeringssituation Göteborg - YimbyGBG
Nordstan har 10% färre p-platser än Frölunda Torg men 60% högre omsättning.

Spend on high streets according to travel mode - Bristol City Council
Research in Leicester has found that as motorised traffic flow increases so does the proportion of vacant shops along that particular street

Volymer. Svenska Petroleum och Biodrivmedel Institutet

Reduced sickness absence in regular commuter cyclist can save employers 27 million euros - Fietsberaad

Wikipedia. Bicycle helmet > Health Benefits of Cycling
Studies from China, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom show that regular cyclists live longer because the health effects far outweigh the risk of crashes.

Streetswiki - Parking Minimums

How bicycling will save the economy (if we let it) - Grist
Imagine getting a $3,000 to $12,000 tax rebate this year. Now imagine it coming again and again. Every year it grows by around a thousand dollars. Imagine how this would change your daily life.

Portland Is Top Bike-To-Work City As Lawyers Hit Street - Bloomberg
“Every dollar spent on a car in Portland is a dollar that leaves the city,” Mayor Sam Adams said in an interview. “We don’t make cars, we don’t have oil wells, and we don’t have a major car insurer headquartered here.”

Cyclists Are Better Shoppers Than Motorists - Copenhagenize
See links to studies in the comments section

Den här artikeln har tidigare publicerats på svenska:
Cykling ger styrka åt lokala ekonomin - Ecoprofile Sverige



ERIK SANDBLOM 2012-09-18        #21246
Nine Reasons to Create a Bicycle-Friendly Business District - Transportation Daily
“Not enough parking” is often a top concern of business districts. However, incentivizing drivers to instead bicycle opens up car parking. The average cost to create and install a parking space is $15,000 (this is street, garage and lot parking averaged), compared to a bike rack, which costs about $200. Bicycle parking is taxpayer-friendly. It’s also customer friendly, as it’s in front of a destination and free.

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