Biking to preserve local business
Grocery stores that invest in parking are investing in their competitors. When driving to the grocery store is encouraged, distance is no longer a barrier. People accustomed to driving to the store will eventually leave their local store, if they think a competitor will offer a better experience. This was one conclusion of a recent panel on the impact of bicycle transportation on local businesses, which was chaired by Senior Consultant Angela van der Kloof. The Bike Café was organized by the Tilburg Cycling Forum and included local businesses from the Dutch town of Tilburg and transportation consultants who came together to brainstorm ways to promote local commerce.
In The Netherlands, 31 percent of shopping trips under 7.5 kilometers are made by bike. Students and people over 50 are more likely to take the bike for shopping. Since the economic crisis hit The Netherlands, shoppers are spending less and more shopping has been done online since 2005. There are also more people working from home as a result of a movement that encourages flexibility in work schedules and the use of technology, which means people are not out circulating in the city as much.
In order to encourage people to continue shopping locally, it must be easy to access the commercial area and good bike parking must be provided. Shoppers on bikes can be drawn in by daily specials. Shoppers have so many products at their fingertips (literally) that experience is really what people seek when they visit a restaurant and shop. Forward-thinking businesses are offering unique events and services to keep their local clientele. This concept is more important than a product itself.