There has been a move to build more infrastructure for cyclists here. However, with limited space on the road, this comes at a cost… which has local businesses concerned.


But there is the issue. How can you tell how you tell a driving customer from a walking customer from a biking customer? Especially when a cyclist is not a “cyclist”…


…just like a driver is not a “driver.”

They are both customers. But drivers tend to pass through towns, and those on bike or on foot will spend time at local businesses. And the goal of business is to get more customers, and bike infrastructure will bring more of these not-cyclists down their particular street- with things to do, money to spend, time to stop.


Ultimately it’s not about biking, but creating a neighborhood where people will stop biking… and stay a while.

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  • Megan Ramey November 2, 2012   Reply →

    Brilliant!! Take note, Beacon Street business district!

  • Richard Masoner November 2, 2012   Reply →

    This is by far the best illustration I’ve seen on the myth of customers = cars = MOAR PARKING.

  • Geoff Schneider November 2, 2012   Reply →

    Funny you mention this. I signed up for a local bike coalition ride into a depressed area of the city. The tour is sampling the different food options in the neighborhood and how to get there by bike. If they found a good BBQ stop, I might come back.

  • Opus the Poet November 2, 2012   Reply →

    I’m one of those “not-cyclists”, the only obvious clue that I ride a bicycle (aside from my trim physique and huge quads) is I have en entire section in my closet devoted to the “ANSI Safety” color palette. And I don’t care what anyone says, nobody looks good in ANSI Safety Lime. Some might look good in ANSI Safety Pink, maybe. It’s kind of a Lady Gaga or Madonna costume color.

    Now if you really want to see people clutching their mouths to restrain their lunches, wear a Safety Lime jersey with Safety Pink tights or shorts. I used to have the shorts a few years ago. And I did wear that combination, to church even.

    • Richard Masoner November 2, 2012  

      I dunno, Opus. I’m pretty sure your attire gave you away as one of those ‘cyclists’ when you stepped into church.

    • Opus the Poet November 3, 2012  

      I’m pretty sure they knew I was a cyclist long before that, considering that they held a fund-raiser after I was killed (but I didn’t know I had been dead at that point). I never came to church in my bike gear before that.

  • Here, kitty kitty November 2, 2012   Reply →

    Change can be scary for these business owners….kind of like the change I incorporated into my daily commute by purchasing a bike in 2009. Back then, Somerville Ave didn’t have the luxurious bike lanes it has today. I am proud to be a non-cyclist and can’t wait to experience life in the cycle track lane! Great comic.

  • Jay Nielsen November 3, 2012   Reply →

    Within the recreational roadie scene, I often see this played out where proprietor A will literally chase off “cyclists” (who happen to “waste” big money on such frivolity)… $3500-$5000 bikes are a good indicator.
    Meanwhile, the smarter proprietor B recognizes his true market potential and will capitalize on it by enticing these alienated customers on two wheels. He encourages this by being friendly, e.g., asking the classic “what/why/when/how” questions — taking a real interest in this market segment so as to profit from it. He provides bike parking, carries what we request (for long rides), and in return, we promote and patronize this merchant within our subculture. Because of proprietor A’s marketing myopia, he’s losing out to proprietor B through lost sales, a declining reputation/goodwill, and the fact that cyclists are just plain cool to be around. Cash from a jersey back pocket spends just as well as cash from traditional places.

    • bostonperson whohasbike November 4, 2012  

      and why the hate on hipsters? you see one pulling up on a geekhouse bike you know they have a bunch of disposable income.

  • Cycler November 3, 2012   Reply →

    Great post! Can we give a copy of this to every business owner on beacon?
    I just wish I could invent some special glasses that would show business owners how their customers all arrived.

  • Kevin Love November 3, 2012   Reply →

    Here in Toronto, the government conducted a survey of merchants in a major shopping street. The merchants were asked what they believed was the percentage of their customers who were car drivers. They also conducted a survey of the customers to find out how many actually were car drivers.

    Anyone care to guess how that turned out?

    31% of the merchants believed that 0-20% of their customers were car drivers.

    44% of the merchants believed that 21-50% of their customers were car drivers.

    13% of the merchants believed that 51-75% of their customers were car drivers.

    13% of the merchants believed that 76-100% of their customers were car drivers.

    Everyone is, of course, now asking themselves “What was the actual percentage of car drivers?”

    Drum roll, please…

    The actual, factual reality was that 21% of their customers were car drivers!


    • Steve December 13, 2012  

      Uhm Kevin, isn’t the revelation there that about 75% of merchants were almost exactly right about how many of their customers were car drivers?

    • Eric Herot December 13, 2012  


      Agreed. Would have been more useful to see it in ten percent increments, or at least different increments so that the “right” number didn’t end up on a boundary. And putting 21 and 50 percent in the same group lumps together two pretty big differences in opinion.

  • Jean November 3, 2012   Reply →

    Great post. Under those circumstances I am cyclist that needs to shop and eat at cafes, restaurants.

    Biz owners: It’s that simple. So make sure there are some bike racks and we’ll come back more often. :)

  • bostonperson whohasbike November 3, 2012   Reply →

    I rode my bike to the hardware store today. They don’t have bike racks out front. you just reminded me to request one from the city of Boston. Thanks!

    • dr2chase November 6, 2012  

      Hardware store I rode to (in Lexington, Ace Hardware, Lowell and Woburn) said “you’re the first person to use our bike rack. The town made us install one.” So I try to remember to stop there and buy stuff, so they’ll feel better about their mandatory rack. They have a lot of metric stuff in their basement, and a nice selection of mason jars for preserves upstairs.

    • Ethan Fleming November 14, 2012  

      A while ago I parked my bike inside Iparty because there was not bike rack and nothing my Ulock would fit around. They told me that I could not leave the bike in the store and I told them to shut their mouths until they get a bike rack. They then kicked me out. I refuse to do business with them until all locations have a bike rack.

  • Kevin Love November 4, 2012   Reply →

    The issue brought up by Bikeyface’s cartoon merchant, replacing car parking with cycle tracks, was also part of the merchant survey.

    The merchants were asked what they thought the effect upon their business would be if 50% of the on-street car parking were removed and replaced with cycle lanes and a widened sidewalk.

    Result: Over half (54%) of the merchants surveyed believed that their business would increase or remain unchanged. Most of them get it!

    But almost half of them do no. The reality being that since only 21% of their customers are car drivers, with 79% walking, cycling or taking public transit, improving the street by getting rid of car parking will inevitably increase their business by making the whole district a much more pleasant place to shop.

    • Ethan Fleming November 14, 2012  

      Although I accept that a very large number of people in Boston do their transportation by car you have to keep in mind that is not based on just the people who live in Boston. That is based on people who come to visit it for reasons ranging from working in the city or going for a shopping trip in the city and living as far as New Hampshire.

      It is estimated that 80% of people who live in the city do their transportation around the city by bicycle or MBTA and only use their car (if they have one) for trips that require them going places out of the city.

      It is wonderful that the city is working hard to accomodate people who get around by bike but businesses and drivers need to learn to accept this.

  • KYouell November 5, 2012   Reply →

    This is what I’ve been harping on lately. We need to take a page from the MADD playbook and change the image that goes with “cyclist” to a mom with kids on her bike or in tow. The image that comes to mind now is someone that doesn’t need safe infrastructure, is a scofflaw, etc. We need to use an image that makes people viscerally equate “cyclist” with “vulnerable road user” so that politicians and businesses don’t want to be perceived as being against people on bikes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of myself as weak, but I think the pendulum of perception needs to swing that way to get roads that are more useable for all. It’s like curb cuts being “for” people in wheelchairs, but they certainly benefit many others.

  • Andrea November 5, 2012   Reply →

    I would think business owners in that part of town would be thrilled – I ride into the city often from JP, and I am more likely to visit Beacon Hill shops on my bike, because it’s virtually impossible to find parking there in my car and I’m not about to spend 30 dollars just to park nearby — either for a garage or for the inevitable ticket. It’s very simple, really. In fact, the beauty of biking is exactly that: Simplicity. Hungry? Stop your bike. See a cool outfit in a window? (something you can’t see from a car) Stop your bike and stop in. Biking promotes the kind of positive-cash-flow spontaneity that just isn’t possible if you’re driving around for a half hour looking for parking.

    • Eric Herot November 6, 2012  

      So true! And a related thing I’m amazed isn’t mentioned more often: Bicyclists are really only constrained by their own schedule. Drivers in urban areas must be constantly vigilant that their meter hasn’t run out or that they haven’t exceeded the two hour parking limit. If the goal is to bring in people who will spend more time in your store, attracting bicyclists (or “non-cyclists,” heh) would seem to be the way to go.

  • Ryan Surface November 6, 2012   Reply →

    I have observed on visits to Portland, OR that on some streets they have converted one parking space to bike parking the cool thing is you can get about 20 bikes in the space one car takes and I noticed that the converted parking spaces were usually full of bikes. Works especially well in those areas with restaurants, bars, cafes etc example here

  • Guavaboy November 6, 2012   Reply →

    And what about the residents? Just curious. This seems to be focused on the merchants/businesses. This road is up against Cambridge, so those that live in Somerville will have their resident parking cut in half, with no options to park in Cambridge due to resident parking permits.

    Just curious…

    FYI, I’m not a resident of Beacon Street

  • Phil Lindsay November 12, 2012   Reply →

    You should also have a scene of a driver going past then stopping at the mall and saying, “Great there’s plenty of parking here.” only to show them having to walk further from the edge of the lot to the mall than they would have had to walk to get to the corner store….

  • Patrick November 15, 2012   Reply →

    I agree with the reference that on-street parking is over-hyped as a “must have” for businesses. I disagree that people that don’t bike during the winter or during any type of “poor weather” can be considered cyclists in the ‘truest’ sense. Cycling is about taking the good with the bad, (Toronto atm being very bad). But its not like the Martin Goodman was unrideable during Sandy…
    People are just too damn afraid of everything it seems.

  • Patrick November 15, 2012   Reply →

    … they are the same people right after the cut you off in their CAR, they mention “they bike all the time.”

    That is what I am talking about. Where’s your bike now?

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