Study finds two wheels are best for local businesses

Posted on Apr 10, 2016

The cycling revolution is coming to Toronto, and businesses should be thrilled.

That was the message at Cycle Toronto’s Ward 14 Advocacy Group town hall on Apr. 7.

Local residents offered suggestions for better cycling infrastructure.
Local residents offered suggestions for better cycling infrastructure.

“Streets are meant to move people, not cars,” said Gord Perks, councilor, Ward 14 at meeting which took place in the Parkdale branch of the Toronto Public Library. “We’re approaching a tipping point on council. We need 23 cycling advocates on council to really start making changes happen. We’re not there yet but the day is coming.”

A map of Ward 14 with suggestions for improvements to cycling infrastructure.
A map of Ward 14 with suggestions for improvements to cycling infrastructure.

According to Perks, attempts to make streets friendly for cycling, pedestrians and public transit are often stymied by business owners concerned about the potential hit to their bottom line if customers can’t easily drive to and park near their destinations.

Toronto Cycling city planner Christine Blanchard.
Toronto Cycling city planner Christine Blanchard.

However, a survey conducted by Cycle Toronto in the Parkdale area found that 77 per cent of visitors to Parkdale Village arrived by some form of active transportation (walking or biking), 22 per cent took public transit, and just four per cent drove there.

The results will come as a surprise to many business owners, 75 per cent of whom thought that a quarter or more of their customers came by car.

A Cycle Toronto found most Parkdale shoppers arrive on foot or by bike.
A Cycle Toronto found most Parkdale shoppers arrive on foot or by bike.

Interestingly, the survey also found that of people who used active transportation, 58 per cent spent more than $100 a month at local businesses, compared to just 37 per cent of drivers who reported spending more than $100.
Not only do they spend more, they also visit more often. Only 31 per cent of drivers said they visit the area more than ten times per month, compared to 75 per cent of those who walk or cycle.

Christina Bouchard, cycling city planner, City of Toronto believes businesses are beginning to understand how they benefit from better cycling infrastructure.

Local politicians came out to show their support for cyclists.
Local politicians came out to show their support for cyclists.

“We are piloting bike lanes on Bloor this summer,” said Bouchard.
The project is notable in that it was not even proposed in the city’s last 10 year Bike Plan because of how resistant local business owners were to the idea.

According to Perks, cyclists can’t expect many other significant cycling infrastructure projects in the area this year but he did say bike boxes at coming to Dundas and Saurauren. Bike boxes are lines allowing cyclists to stop in front of cars at intersections in order to make turns more safely. The intersections also prohibit right turns on red light, reducing the likelihood of a cyclist getting sideswiped by a turning car.

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