When traffic experts analyze the input parameters for site selection, they usually consider only the small adjacent section of the road, sometimes just in one passing direction.
But the roads constitute a network, and a good C-store is a destination place. This is why we decided to investigate how important are different road categories from the point of view of the customer base. This investigation brought up some largely unexpected results.
Let’s attempt to figure this out by using a VMT parameter in its relationship to the road importance index, or as it is called in the US, functional road class (FRC).
It is generally accepted that the largest number of people travel on highways, and this is true - but not from the customers’ point of view. In fact, highways (FRC1) make up no more than 5% of the road network, and, for example, in Ohio, they carry only 28% of traffic. The majority of travel - about 37% - takes place along traffic light-controlled arteries a.k.a. business roads (FRC 2,3,4), which comprise approximately 25% of the total length of the road network. And another 35% of travel takes place on small rural roads (FRC5,6 and 7) which exceed 70% of the total length of the road network. Given that the average speed on highways is about twice higher than on business roads, and five times more than on rural roads, the time that potential customers spend on the road is distributed quite unexpectedly:
Highways - 12%
Business roads - 31%
Rural roads - 57%
What's more, rural roads in most cases have fewer hurdles to maneuver and stop for shopping and service. So it may turn out that despite less active traffic on the adjacent section of the road, the C-Site located on the rural road will attract more potential customers. This may happen if:
the length of the adjacent rural road network is sufficiently large;
the seasonal fluctuations in traffic flows are insignificant;
drivers' behavior demonstrates pronounced shopping patterns.
It should be noted that the composition of the roads and the VMT on them are highly dependent on the location. Even in the same state, they can substantially vary by county (graph on the left), and in the vicinity of competing for C-Site locations, these variations can be significant even within the same county (graph on the right). In this case, it is also important to note that the length of the road network within a radius of 10 miles for site #2 (Volume of traffic flow in primary directions = 9,504 vpd) is many times greater than for site #1 (Volume of traffic flow in primary directions = 6,759 vpd).
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to analyze road compositions with the help of modern data and methods available via the Ticon algorithm, identifying the "nodes of attraction" of roads and defining the potential customer base.
In any case, you are in charge of making the decision of which site is the best, so why not make it with complete information?
You know best what’s the right location for your business. We know best how to find it.