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."