Bikes Mean Business

Why do bike lanes mean business?

They're safer

Bike lanes are safe for all road users; not just people riding bikes. After the Bloor bike lanes went in:

  • Car-car conflicts dropped 71%
  • Car-bike conflicts dropped 61%
  • Car-pedestrian conflicts dropped 55%

They're popular with residents

Over 80% of residents support protected bike lanes (Ekos, 2018)

They're popular with BIAs

Toronto BIAs support their protected bike lanes. Bloor, Richmond, and Adelaide have all been very successful, so the Financial District, Entertainment, St. Lawrence, Bloor Annex, and Mirvish Village BIAs have all come out in support of their bike lanes.

People biking spend money

Cyclists spend more money: a study in Portland found that customers who biked spent 24% more per month than those who drove.

Customer spending increases

On Bloor Street, business has gone up since the bike lanes went in: in 2015, average customer spending was $186 per month. In 2017, after the bike lanes were installed, average customer spending was $245 per month.

They increase customer access

Bike lanes mean more people can safely get to stores on main streets, and more people means more business! After bike lanes were installed on Bloor St, the average number of weekday customers served went up from 73 per weekday (2015) to 104 per weekday (2017).

They're transit-supportive

Not everyone lives within walking distance of a subway in Toronto. Building bike lanes can support and extend access to transit, such as by making it easier to bike to a subway station or GO station. Many buses in Toronto have bike racks on the front, so even if you need to catch a bus, you can still bring your bike!

More people cycle than drive on main streets

On Bloor St in the Annex, most people (48%) walk to the stores. 23% of people take transit, 20% of people bike and only 9% drive.

Where else have bike lanes improved business?

Victoria, BC

Pandora Ave by Sue Campbell 1.jpg

Pandora Ave in Victoria, BC
Pandora Ave. Photo by Sue Campbell.

Victoria bike lanes on Pandora Ave - by Darren Stone Times Colonist.jpg

Pandora Ave in Victoria, BC is shown. On the right, a row of bicycles are parked on a concrete curb. In the middle is a bi-directional cycle track. A woman cycles toward the photo. To the left, shops line the street.
Pandora Ave. Photo by Darren Stone for the Times Colonist.

In Victoria, people riding a bicycle reported spending more money per month at downtown businesses compared to people who drove.2

New York City, USA

Vanderbilt Avenue bike lanes - photo by NYC DOT.JPG

The image shows a street, from left to right, with parking, a bike lane, a travel lane, a turn pocket and planting zone to form the median, a travel lane in the opposite direction, a bike lane, and parking.
Vanderbilt Avenue with new bike lanes installed. Photo by New York City Department of Transportation.

In New York City, there was a 102% increase in retail sales on Vanderbilt Avenue after bike lanes and traffic calming were installed. In comparison sites, retail sales only increased by 64%.1

What are other cities doing to promote cycling and local business?

West Broadway photo by the West Broadway BIZ.jpg

Photo shows a signpost with a sign that reads 'Central Winnipeg Loop.' A map is shown with relevant destinations. In the background, two people cycle on the street.
The Central Winnipeg Loop takes cyclists through a 10 km loop of downtown neighbourhoods.

In Winnipeg, MB, Several BIZ districts, including the West Broadway BIZ, have launched the Central Winnipeg Bike Loop. The 10-kilometre route takes 45 minutes to complete and runs through several districts around downtown Winnipeg, giving residents a new way to explore their city.

Sara Atnikov, executive director for the West Broadway Biz, said it’s a way to encourage active transportation in the city.

"In terms of West Broadway, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. A lot of people here bike to get around … When there’s good urban planning that encourages active transportation, (residents) get really excited," Atnikov said. " If you have a car, you don’t have the opportunity to wander around and connect with the neighbourhood. When you’re cycling, you’re able to spend more time exploring, and just enjoying the murals, architecture … of the street you’re on."

The loop includes a protected bike lane on Sherbrook Street, along which many businesses are located.

How does Cycle Toronto support local business?

Cycle Toronto frequently works with business improvement areas (BIAs) on major bike lane projects to identify potential challenges and work toward solutions. We work collaboratively and on an ongoing basis with many different business owners. Listed below are some of our current and past initiatives:

Current Initiatives

Organizing #BikesLoveYonge with Cycle Toronto Midtown and Cycle Don Valley Midtown to show how people riding bikes can support local and independent businesses, particularly for pandemic recovery. Worked with collaborating partners at the Yonge + St. Clair BIA, Midtown Yonge BIA, Uptown Yonge BIA, and Yonge Lawrence Village BIA.

Organizing #BikeTOBloor with Deputy Mayor and Davenport Councillor Ana Bailão, Councillor Gord Perks, the Bloordale Village BIA, Bloorcourt Village BIA, and Bloor by the Park BIA to celebrate the brand new bike lanes on Bloor St and support local and independent businesses.

Past Iniatives

Organized a Tour de Bloor Passport to encourage people to bike and buy locally.

Some icons from Freepik, IconGeek26, and Nikita Golubev. Material on this website adapted from "Bikeways and Business on Bloor Street: Research Summary", City of Toronto, 2019.


1 Bikeways and Business on Bloor Street: Research Summary. Toronto: City of Toronto, 2019.
2 Bikes Mean Business: Building a Great Cycling (and Walking) City. Victoria, BC: Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, 2013.

Icon credits: Nikita Golubev, Wichai.wi