Publication Detail

Bicyclists as Consumers: Mode Choice and Spending Behavior in Downtown Davis, California



BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative

Available online at:

Suggested Citation:
Popovich, Natalie and Susan L. Handy (2014) Bicyclists as Consumers: Mode Choice and Spending Behavior in Downtown Davis, California. Transportation Research Record 2648 (1), 47 - 54

The role of bicyclists as consumers is explored through an examination of the relationship between travel mode and shopping behavior. As cities develop policies to combat congestion and reduce emissions from the transportation sector, tension often develops when scarce road space must be allocated, particularly in dense urban cores. The challenge is to accommodate all travel modes and ensure that local businesses are not negatively affected by infrastructure changes. Previous studies in the United States and abroad focused primarily on consumable goods, not retail expenditures. These studies demonstrated that bicyclists made more frequent purchases than their car-driving and transit-riding counterparts and tended to shop at small businesses close to home, whereas motorists spent more money on single occasions. The objective of this study was to examine differences in shopping behavior between bicyclists and motorists–-two groups that are in perpetual competition for parking space and other infrastructure accommodations–-in downtown Davis, California. Two cross-sectional online surveys in 2009 and 2010 that asked questions about recent shopping in downtown Davis provide the data set. Respondents who biked on their most recent trips downtown spent, on average, slightly more on their purchases each trip than their car-driving counterparts. Bicyclists also made more frequent shopping trips and thus spent more money at downtown establishments than customers traveling by car.

Key words: bicycling, roads, space allocation, parking space