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The Emerging Bicycle Economy in Portland and New York City

It’s no surprise to learn that there’s a thriving bicycle subculture that’s been steadily emerging in places like New York, Portland, and Los Angeles for the better part of the last five to seven years. As our nation (and the rest of the world) becomes more and more concerned with environmentalism, sustainability, and frugality, cycling has become more and more of an attractive alternative. Not only this, but the health benefits are many, as well. Bicycling, as opposed to operating an automobile is good for just about everybody — the environment gets a break, and you get a whole lot healthier.

Recent studies, however, have shown that there are even more benefits, and ones that everyone will find attractive — stimulation of the local economy. These observations began in New York, where it eventually became realized that the increase of bicycle usage and the spread of the bicycle culture in the area had created a significant boon for the local economy comprised largely of small businesses and storefronts.

Residents of areas like New York’s East Village or parts of Portland have undoubtedly seen the many bike-related improvements made to their cities over the past several years. Specifically in the East Village, when city officials decided that they would go ahead and incorporate bike lanes in their traffic layout, it led to nearly a quarter of the total residents reporting that they used their bike as a primary mode of transportation. Driving the point home even further was the finding that a relatively astonishing 95% of local retail spending was done by folks riding their bikes, walking, or using one of the many available forms of public transportation.

The simple fact of the matter is that if you’re in your car, you’re a lot less likely to be soliciting local businesses on a regular basis. Driving in a car simply affords an individual less convenient opportunities to stop into a local business or restaurant and enjoy their wares. Unsurprisingly enough, it was discovered in New York’s East Village that users of alternate transportation spent way more money at local businesses than their car-operating counterparts.

Compelling information like this from an area as dense as New York City is usually convincing enough, but the researchers involved wanted further confirmation. They turned their attention to Portland, Oregon — the two cities are incredibly different in terms of density and population, but they both share an impressive and burgeoning bicycle culture that demands more and more attention.

The findings in Portland were similar. In fact, while there was the interesting observation that per visit, drivers spent more money at locations like supermarkets and stores, it was also true that cyclists and pedestrians visited far more frequently, thus spending more money in the long run. The same applied for establishments such as restaurants or bars. Bicycling is becoming more and more of a popular form of alternative transportation, and whether you love it because you save on auto repair, or because it gives you a great workout, you’re doing a great job at protecting our environment and supporting your local economy.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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