Cyclists are priceless for cities

| November 25, 2015

A new Danish study shows that cyclists and pedestrians contribute to roughly 50 % of the revenue in retailing in the large cities’ centers and roughly 25 % in the small and medium-sized cities. The bicycle is the preferred means of transportation in city centers, and cyclists visit more shops per trip than car drivers.

The relationship between cycling and commercial life has previously been examined in Copenhagen but not yet in other cities and towns in Denmark. Therefore, the Danish Road Directorate granted funding for such a survey in seven different municipalities in Denmark. The survey was conducted by the consulting company COWI, a member of the Cycling Embassy of Denmark. The results have just been published.

Urban life and cycle traffic go hand in handIndkøb og adfærd

“The survey has shown that cyclists and pedestrians contribute to roughly 50 % of the revenue in retailing in the large cities city centers outside of Copenhagen and roughly 25 % in the small and medium-sized cities.  It shows that cyclists and pedestrians play an important role for urban life in both the small cities as well as the large ones,“ says Pablo Celis, project manager for Aarhus Cykelby (Aarhus Cycle City).

The bicycle is the preferred mode of transport in the city center of larger towns. Cyclists and pedestrians are an important factor of an exciting urban life because they move around at a slower pace and in the immediate vicinity of other users of the urban life.

The survey it has now tested and proved that cyclists and pedestrians have a significant positive influence on commercial life from spending money in shops, restaurants and other consumer goods and retailing activities in town centers.

Demand for a concentrated efforts to make cycling even more present

As many as 89 % of the participants in the survey have less than 2 km to their closest grocery store. This is interesting because large distances are the most important explanation for why people choose not to cycle. Simultaneously, the study shows that only 11 % of all the participants and 21 % of those of them that use the car have more than 2 km to the nearest grocery store. Despite the large amount of people living within short distance of shopping opportunities, almost 1/3 took went by car on their last shopping trip. This demonstrates a need for a general effort to make car drivers see the bike as a good option on short trips. This would also make it easier to park in the town centers.

“We hope that this survey can contribute to reflections about how the cities are organized and how cities can support the use of bicycles in connection with shopping – and hence get more people to bike in Danish cities,“ says Pablo Celis.

More info about the surveyCities investigated

  • The Municipality of Aarhus received funding from the Danish Road Directorate to complete an analysis about the relationship between means of transportation and retail trade. COWI completed the analysis for Aarhus Municipality.
  • The involved municipalities are Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg, Kolding, Randers, Horsens and Ikast-Brande.
  • The survey comprises different types of city and regional configurations. In total, 20 different locations have been analyzed covering city centers and shopping centers.
  • In April 2015, COWI conducted interviews in 20 different cities and urban areas with roughly 2,200 people. Furthermore, 1,700 people filled out a questionnaire.
  • The questions concerned transportation habits, reasons for choosing their mode of transport, the amount spent on shopping, facilities affecting the choice of bicycles, and numerous other conditions.


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Category: Commuting, Economy, Policy, Research