City’s biking industry rakes in 1.3 billion

| July 28, 2011

The story is borrowed from the COPENHAGEN postGehl 1

Being the “city of cyclists” has its economic benefits

That Copenhagen is a city crazy for bicycles has long been established. The city sports roughly 350 kilometres of bicycle lanes and paths, and nearly 40 percent of the population go about their daily commute on two wheels.

But beyond the health and environmental benefits of Copenhagen’s two-wheeled love lies an economic boon for the city. Copenhagen Council has calculated that the local cycling industry turns over 1.3 billion kroner a year. To put it in cycling- friendly terms, Politiken newspaper estimates that the annual amount is equivalent to the cost of 65,000 Christiania cargo bikes.

According to the report, there are 309 registered workplaces in Greater Copenhagen that either sell or repair bicycles. These businesses account for 650 full-time jobs and a combined revenue of 1.3 billion kroner.

Copenhagen Council also looked at a number of various factors including safety, comfort, transport time, tourism and branding to calculate a cost benefit analysis of cycling. When all the factors were calculated together, the council estimated that society earns 1.22 kroner for every biked kilometre, in comparison to 0.69 kroner for every kilometre driven in a car.

“We have a very unique approach to bicycles here in Copenhagen and it is a pleasant surprise that it has such a big effect on the city’s business community,” deputy mayor for Copenhagen Council’s technical and environmental committee, told Politiken.

In addition to the economic figures, the annual report from Copenhagen Council reports that 96 percent of all schoolchildren in Copenhagen have a bicycle and that roughly 55 percent of them bike to school regularly, either by themselves or accompanied by a parent. The study also revealed that more than one in every seven families with small children hit the streets in a cargo bike – which have become, perhaps more than anything, a global symbol of the city’s biking culture.

American expat Will Kearins, whose company Boxcycles exports Christiania bicycles to the United States, says that convincing his American customers of the economic advantages of switching to a bike can be a tough sell, especially given the significant purchase price of the bike.

“I think a huge part of Copenhagen’s success is that people understand that switching from a car to a bike can save a lot of money, time, and grief,” Kearins told The Copenhagen Post. “Yes the bikes cost a lot up front but within the first year, this is forgotten. Savings come from all angles — no car loan, no parking, less maintenance, less or no insurance, and, of course, no gas.”

“A huge part of my mission and current role as a (sort-of) ambassador of the Copenhagen bike culture to the US is showing all of the benefits of the bike because some people, unfortunately, will never listen to the economic benefits – they will always see the price tag that they can’t afford,” he added.

The cargo bikes are a particular hit at bike rental locations. Henrik Mortensen, co-founder of Baisikeli – a Copenhagen bike rental company that uses the profits from its rentals to finance the collection and shipment of used bicycles to Africa – told Politiken that tourists jump at the chance to cycle through Copenhagen on a Christiania bike.

“It’s like a revelation for them – the idea of a family being able to transport themselves around town that way,” he said. “It gives them an initial ‘wow-experience’ that has to be experienced first-hand.”

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Category: Danish Cycling Know How, Economy

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