The July issue of Catalyst (the new and improved version of the U of M CTS Report) includes the following article about the economic impact of the local bike sharing system:
Since a Nice Ride station selectively increases accessibility around it, researcher Jessica Schoner explained, “Our theory was that people are going to take additional trips to that destination or they’re going to switch destinations and go to [one] near a Nice Ride station, because they can bike there conveniently…and then they’re going to spend money near these stations.”
The researchers also found that Nice Ride users spent, on average, an extra $1.29 per week on new trips because of Nice Ride. Projecting that out for the overall survey sample amounted to more than $900 per week in new economic activity, or about $29,000 over the Nice Ride season (April through November), Schoner said. And extrapolating that for the entire population of Twin Cities Nice Ride subscribers would generate an additional $150,000 over the season.
I really like this study, and I hope we continue to see more studies like it. This study has some data collection weaknesses (for example, it appears to rely on users self-reporting the extra money that wouldn’t have otherwise been spent), but it’s an important step in the right direction. If we want to make a stronger case for investment in cycling and walking, we need to be able to present economic data that supports the case.