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image economic Cyclelife231 Lo Res

Riding a bike is good for the wallet and the balance sheet

For your people, commuting by bike is a very low cost option.  Rather than pay for fuel and parking, or public transport fares, you can get to work for free.  As an example, in Auckland and based on a 10 kilometre commuting distance, getting to work by bike just once a week, for a year, saves about $300 or $1,300 (compared with bus or car, respectively).

For employers (as mentioned in the Health & Wellbeing section), having more of your people riding bikes to work, or during the day, means a more alert and healthier workforce, contributing to increased productivity and fewer days off sick.

And, by adding a bike or two to your vehicle fleet, your people can use them to get to local business appointments. As well as saving on taxi or fuel/parking costs, it’s often much quicker, especially on an e-bike in our congested major cities which have ever-expanding networks for cycling. Again, a productivity saving with less time spent travelling.

Another example, if one fleet bike is used, rather than a taxi, just once per day for a 6 km round trip in central Auckland then the avoided cost would be approximately $120 per week. The savings mount up over a year, or with greater usage. The return on investment in an e-bike can be very favourable.

Finally, a common reaction to proposed cycleways in retail areas is the fear that loss of parking spaces will mean fewer customers and sale. The evidence reveals the opposite. Businesses tend to over-estimate the number of their customers who arrive by car. Many studies have actually shown that providing for people on  bikes, especially as part of better streetscape design, increases the number of shoppers and spending.

Facts and figures

Here are some facts and figures from research to back this up:

  • Many studies have shown that improving provision for people on bikes is good for retailers. A comprehensive 2013 NZ study into spending behaviour of shoppers arriving on different transport modes showed that there was little difference in spending behaviour overall.
  • Similarly, studies have revealed that retailers typically over-estimate the number of their customers who arrive by car. A survey from Auckland1 found that K-Road retailers thought 41% of their customers would arrive by cars, but only 17% actually did.
  • At a whole economy level, the 2008 NZ study into valuing the health benefits of active modes is useful. It estimated the net benefits from cycling at 16 cents per kilometre (primarily from reduced burden on the health system).
  • Again, with a whole economy perspective, a 2014 UK Government report values the financial (social) benefit of investing in cycling at £5.5 for each £1 invested. In keeping with this finding, the UK government supports a scheme to subsidise bikes for employees.

1 Karangahape Road enhancements pre-works survey of local businesses (Auckland Transport, July 2016)(external link)

 

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