Here’s another post in our series of research-based advocacy talking points by PeopleforBikes.
In response to proposed or newly built bike lanes, it seems like store owners often complain about reduced parking and customers lost. All of the evidence, however, points to the fact that installing protected bike routes tends to boost local shops.
For example, after a hugely contested bike lane was installed on Skillman Avenue in Queens, New York, data shows that sales in the stores, bars, and restaurants on the seven-block commercial stretch collectively rose by 12%.
Other streets in New York have seen similar results: After the construction of a protected bike lane on 9th Avenue in Manhattan, local businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales (on other streets in the borough, the average was only 3%) and a redesign of the city’s Union Square to include a protected bike lane resulted in 49% fewer commercial vacancies, compared to 5% more throughout Manhattan.
It’s not just in New York: In Salt Lake City’s Broadway, replacing parking with protected bike lanes increased retail sales.
There’s also evidence that customers who arrive at retail stores by bike spend the same amount per month compared to people who arrive by car — they tend to make smaller purchases but return more frequently.
What’s more, neighborhoods that don’t require a car to move around are more economically resilient. Bike trails and greenways also benefit communities economically by attracting visitors, promoting job growth in tourism-related industries, and revitalizing communities through the “Trail Town” model and Trail-Oriented Development.
Fairfax County and its cities aren’t as dense as Queens, Manhattan, or downtown Salt Lake. But, if the county will move more expeditiously to connect and extend existing bike lanes and trails, there are blocks of businesses in Fairfax City, Falls Church, McLean, Reston, Springfield, Tysons, and elsewhere where better bicycling will boost business.
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