6 Ways to Attract Cyclists to Your Business

by Jan Fletcher on October 29, 2012

Think that catering to cyclists is a waste of time? Think again. According to a 2011 study [PDF] released by Portland State University, two-wheeled traffic can boost sales at bars, restaurants, and retail stores.

The study found that, although cyclists typically spend about $3 less than motorists per trip, they visit businesses more frequently — and ultimately spend more per month. For example, a typical cyclist spends an average of $7.30 per trip and $105.66 per month at convenience stores compared with the average motorist, who spends $7.98 per trip but only $79.37 per month. The study also calculated the economic impact from recreational cyclists in Wisconsin, who collectively spend close to $1 billion annually.

Here are six ways your business can attract pedal-powdered spenders:

1. Create a bike-friendly shopping-discount program. The city of Long Beach, Calif., launched the nation’s first Bicycle Friendly Business District in June 2011. The Bike Saturdays discount program offers patrons carrying bike helmets deals at participating merchants (identified by the display of a Shop-Dine-Bike sticker).

2. Offer perks to touring cyclists. Six cyclists on a seven-day ride may spend $10,500 on the whole excursion, according to American Trails, a national nonprofit that advocates for urban and rural pedestrian trails. Complimentary phone-recharging, free lockers for storing cycling gear, and how-to handouts for finding lodging give tourists an incentive to linger even longer — and spend more. Work collaboratively with local businesses to distribute a bike-tours guide that directs cyclists to nutritious eateries and local attractions.

3. Invest in sturdy bike racks. Parking an unlocked car in a high-theft neighborhood is risky, and the same holds true for bicycles. The replacement costs for some bicycles approaches that of a used automobile, and merchants who want to attract shoppers on two wheels should consider ways to keep their customers’ bikes safe. Inverted U-style racks serve biking customers better, according to the Retailers Guide to Implementing Effective Bicycle Parking [PDF]. Just as with parking lots and garages, security lighting is essential. To put the outlay for bike racks in perspective, consider that up to 20 bicycles can be parked securely in the space it takes for one parked car.

4. Offer cyclists a health-conscious menu. Post your restaurant menu where cyclists don’t have to lock up or leave their bikes to view it. Develop high-carb menus for serious cycling enthusiasts, as they can burn through a lot of calories. Vegans and vegetarians often enjoy an active lifestyle and appreciate healthy selections, too. When the weather is warm, smoothies are a good choice to refresh and refuel thirsty patrons.

5. Bring the happy hour to the bike shop. Velo Cult offers customers a combination bicycle shop-bar-coffeehouse that serves two-wheelers in Portland, Ore. The company’s founder and owner is Sky Boyer, a road-bike racing enthusiast who moved his business from San Diego to the cycling mecca earlier this year.

6. Consider adding a “bike-thru” window. Black Sheep Cafe in Portland has a bike-thru window where, in addition to typical drive-thru fare, cyclists can order a tire patch kit.