Bicycle means business

Jean-François Rheault
April 27, 2021

In mid-March, I lined up for 45 minutes to get into my favourite bike shop. Like many Quebecers, I was experiencing the effects of skyrocketing demand. The cycling boom is very real. Moneris reported that bike store sales rose by 32% in 2020, and that in January 2021, they had already jumped by 87%. Our study Cycling in Québec in 2015 evaluated the Québec cycling market at $500 million. Here are a few examples of how the cycling economy goes well beyond this industry’s retail market.

Cycling for rescuing our city centers

Over the past few weeks, the firm PwC published a report on behalf of the City of Montréal recommending increasing the number of bike paths and pedestrian streets to promote the relaunch of the downtown core. Citing examples from around the world, this report explains how cycling infrastructures promote mobility, but also make living environments more pleasant. In a context where urban centers are having to reinvent themselves, making more space for pedestrians and cyclists is a practical way to reinforce the quality of the experience.

Cycling for attracting companies and young professionals

Major American cities have clearly understood the importance of cycling infrastructures for attracting and retaining talent. Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel (2011-2019) stated in 2012: “You cannot be for a startup, high-tech company and not be pro-bike.” The same goes for the competitiveness of urban centers: companies today are looking for cities that help them find talent, but also offer a good place to live.

Cycling for increasing personal disposable income

Another aspect that I feel is often overlooked in terms of cycling’s contribution to the economy is the money it leaves in the pockets of those who travel by bike. It is easy to understand that using a bike costs less than using a car. When biking allows you to avoid buying a car, the available amount that can be reallocated to other expenses represents an average of $11,000, according to CAA-Québec. Bearing in mind that Québec does not manufacture cars, the next time you see a full parking lot, think about Québec’s trade deficit and all the money that is leaving Québec.

On the eve of the municipal elections, the issue should not be whether or not to invest in biking, but rather how much it collectively costs us not to offer biking as a viable option to more people.

Jean-François Rheault
President and CEO