Are bike lanes good for business?

We’ve heard it before: we can’t remove on street parking on main streets to make way for new bike lanes because it’s bad for business. It turns out that a growing number of studies are demonstrating that the opposite is true.

  • Portland State University researchers found that customers who arrive by bike spend 24% more per month than those who arrive by car. While cyclists spent less per trip, they visited more often than those who arrived by car. Cyclists outspent motorists at convenience stores, bars and restaurants, while motorists outspent cyclists at supermarkets.

  • Protected bike lanes increase retail sales. New York City's Department of Transportation found that protected bike lanes had a significant positive impact on the strength of local business. After the construction of a protected bike lane on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw a 49 percent increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout Manhattan only saw a 3 percent increase in retail sales.    

  • An overwhelming majority of people arrive to main streets by walking, cycling and transit. A 2009 study found that a significant majority of people arrive by walking, cycling or transit. 90% of patrons in the Bloor Annex and 80% of patrons in Bloor West Village arrive by walking, cycling or transit.

  • If you build it, they will come. Cycling volumes on Richmond St nearly tripled after installation of cycle tracks from Bathurst St to University Ave.  

Those who cycle or walk through a business area are more likely to establish themselves as regular patrons of businesses, spending more money per visit and visiting more often than driving patrons. Therefore, replacing on‐street parking with bike lanes on traditional downtown shopping streets could actually increase commercial activity.

Lack of cycling infrastructure holding most Torontonians back from riding more

54% of Torontonians - some 1.5 million people - have ridden a bicycle in the last year. However, 73% of Torontonians also say that the lack of cycling infrastructure is holding them back from riding more often. How would local business benefit if we extended safe cycling options to more people?

Let’s look at the intersection of Danforth Ave and Pape Ave in Toronto. While more than 3,000 people live within a 5 min walking distance, a whopping 42,000 people live within a 5 min bike ride. That’s a significant customer base for businesses encouraging patrons to cycle to their district.


Data and image with thanks to Daniel Arancibia, Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank

While some are willing to ride without bike lanes, the majority will only ride on main streets like Danforth if there is safe cycling infrastructure. Why wouldn’t we invest in fantastic cycling infrastructure that not only gets more people riding but boosts retail sales for local business?

A growing number of businesses agree that bike lanes mean business

Over the past several months, Cycle Toronto staff and volunteers have been out talking to local business owners about bike lanes on Bloor and Danforth. We’ve mapped out the businesses supportive of bike lanes on both streets and now more than 50 businesses on Bloor and 60 businesses on Danforth have dedicated their support. They’ve put up #BloorLovesBikes and #DanforthLovesBikes stickers in their windows to demonstrate their support for bike lanes on these streets.

Review the maps, drop by, shop and thank them for supporting bike lanes on Bloor and Danforth!

By Jared Kolb on Aug 24, 2015