Saturday, June 01, 2013

Protected bike lane in NYC boosting retail business

Streets are places where locals discover new stores and restaurants, where window shoppers duck into shops to peruse, and where children convince their parents to stop — just for ONE second — to buy a cup of hot chocolate. In other words, streets can also grow local economies. A new study shows that streets that safely accommodate bicycle and pedestrian travel are especially good at boosting small businesses, even in a recession.

NYC DOT found that protected bikeways had a significant positive impact on local business. After the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Ave, local businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout the rest of Manhattan only saw a 3% increase in retail sales. In many ways, this comes as no surprise. When towns invest in bike infrastructure, people ride more. People who travel by bicycle have fewer barriers to stopping at a local business than those who travel by car. A recent study suggests that bike riders tend to spend more at local businesses over the course of a month.

The protected bike lane is right next to one sidewalk. Then there's a wide, low median as a barrier lane, which in some spots has a few parking spots, or at the end of the block, a turn lane. Then you have 2 or 3 lanes of traffic (in one direction) and finally an optional full parking lane next to the other sidewalk. Cyclists are fully isolated from vehicle traffic and feel safe and almost at one with the pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk.

Better walking infrastructure encourages retail too. In another example from the study, retails sales increased a whopping 179% after the city converted an underused parking area in Brooklyn into a pedestrian plaza. Retail sales at businesses in the rest of Brooklyn only increased by 18%.

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