New research from Nielsen shows that US consumers are changing driving habits. Bike companies need to adapt to meet new needs

Mountains are out, urban is in

Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers’ Association in the US, has told Associated Press that consumers stung by $4-per-gallon gas are shifting toward utility bikes and away from mountain bikes. He said that’s forcing bike shops to change their inventories and offer more training for consumers who may not have ridden a bike in years.

The industry-funded Bikes Belong campaign organisation is currently running an online survey for bike shops to complete:

"With gas prices surpassing $4 per gallon, bicycling has been making headlines all summer as a convenient, affordable transportation option. Bicycle retailers throughout the country are reporting increased sales. Customers are coming to shops looking for new bikes—especially commuter models—or bringing in old bikes for repair.

"This is good news for bicycling. More and more people are getting back on their bikes or trying out two wheels for the first time. Major newspapers and television networks have been running stories that showcase bicycling as a cost-effective way to get around town."

Increasingly feeling the pain at the pump, more US consumers are taking steps to compensate for rising gas prices, says the new market research report from Nielson, ‘Impact of Higher Prices on Consumer Driving and Spending Habits’.

“With gas prices passing the $4 per gallon mark, consumers are altering their driving and spending habits at dramatic levels,” said Todd Hale, senior vice president, Consumer & Shopper Insights, at The Nielsen Company.

“While discretionary spending is likely to be a challenge for most low and middle income shoppers, even affluent consumers are looking for ways to make their dollars go further.”

The US mainstream media is currently producing a great many articles and TV news features about the resurgence of urban bicycling. Last week, Carlton Reid, the BikeBiz editor, was interviewed by two major US daily newspapers for background info on this resurgence, following the news about the launch of the Bike to Work Book, due to ship in November.

Reid said: "Cycling as transportation is shaping up to be a major issue for a mainstream audience. At last year’s Interbike there was a lot of talk around this subject and this year’s show will see a lot more products launched to cater to the new demand."

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