Safe routes key to lucrative, bike-friendly business

How do you make your business bike friendly? And what kind of gains are on offer if you do?

First-of-kind research from the Queensland government has explored this question with a view to unlocking the economic benefits promised by consumers on two wheels.

The research surveyed more than 1000 riders across the state, and asked what might make them more likely to ride a bike to their shopping or dining destination.

The findings formed the basis of the government's new Become a bike-friendly business guide, which identifies some key features to help attract bike riders.

Ease of access, was identified as a key characteristic by 45% of respondents.

Difficulty to visit was identified as the biggest hurdle to encouraging people to travel to businesses by bike. It relates to proximity to safe bike paths, commuter routes and recreational trails, and secure bike parking.

Though surrounding bike infrastructure might be beyond the direct control of business owners, the guide offers some suggestions. 

It encourages business owners to engage with riders and explore how the journey to their door could be improved, or get involved with their local council to push for better bike infrastructure in the area. 

In addition to ease of access and secure bike parking, the guide also lists the "positive attitude of staff" as a must-have for building a welcoming, bike-friendly business.

Improvements to bike infrastructure are routinely met with opposition from businesses fearing the loss of on-street parking and access for private motor vehicles.

However, research continues to show that bikes can actually mean good things for a business' bottom line. Studies from Toronto to London, and New York to Lygon Street, continue to show that streets that are safe and enjoyable for walking and bike riding can lead to healthier economic activity.

The Queensland government's research adds further weight to the argument. For example, 64% of bike riders surveyed stop and visit a business when they're out and about, and 31% go to a business on most or every trip. Interestingly, 49% of riders will go out of their way to visit a bike-friendly business even if it's not on their usual route.

While a bike-friendly environment can attract customers and spending, there is also a lot to be gained for the staff of the business, too. Research has demonstrated links between biking to work and fewer sick days, which can result in a financial gain for employers. 

This can be encouraged through quality bike parking and end-of-trip facilities, salary sacrificing for bikes, staff fleet bikes and employee workshops. For more ideas, check out Bicycle Network's Ride2Work page and our Bikes are Good Business Guide.