Bike-Oriented Development Sprouts in Portland

With the traditional metrics of retail economics and geography being undermined by the Internet, businesses are searching for new ways to reach potential customers. Astute business owners in Portland are recognizing the value in good bike exposure.

In an influential study published last year, New York City documented how its transit improvements gave a boost to surrounding businesses. As Michael Andersen explains, smart retailers in Portland got the message long before.   

"Bikes, it turns out, seem to be a perfect way to get people to the few retail categories that are thriving in the age of mail-order everything: bars, restaurants and personal services. And in Portland, where an early investment in basic bikeways has made bikes a popular way to run errands, retailers are responding by snapping up strorefronts with good bike exposure" writes Andersen.

"'All the bike traffic is part of the reason I chose the place, and I am definitely paying a premium for this spot,' said Shana Lane-Block, whose 30-seat farm-to-table cafe and bakery Compote opened in 2011 on Portland's Clinton Street bike boulevard. 'In the nice weather, it is astonishing to me how many bicycles go by.'"

Commenting on a widely circulated, and apparently misreported, study [pdf] conducted for the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium, Andersen adds that, "[i]t's not just that a potential customer on a bike is just as valuable as the same potential customer in a car. It's that good bike access is disproportionately good for the core customers of bars and restaurants."

"And in a real estate market where sellers of electronics, books and clothing are withering, the thriving service sector is becoming especially important."

Full Story: Portland retailers swoop into storefronts along bikeways


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