An annotated, chart-filled review of 12 studies from around the world.
San Francisco is moving forward with a plan to add protected bike lanes on Polk Street, one of the busiest cycling corridors in the city, but the decision didn’t come easy. The San Francisco Examiner reports that the plan endured about 2.5 years of debate. At the center of the dispute was an objection to the loss of on-street parking spaces by local merchants (our emphasis):
Some business owners had argued that a proposed loss of 140 parking spaces in the area would lead to financial losses, and they had pushed hard for studies on possible economic impacts in order to pause construction of the bike lane.
It’s perhaps natural for a shop owner to fear that losing a parking space means losing revenue. Drivers tend to be wealthier than alternative transport users, and cars have big trunks to hold lots of stuff. Cities can add a bike lane and still keep street parking by bumping out spots from the curb (a common practice in New York), but generally speaking more road space for cyclists means less for cars.
But here’s the thing about the “studies on possible economic impacts” requested by retailers on Polk Street, or really wherever bike-lane plans emerge—they’ve been done. And done. And done again. And they all reach a similar conclusion: replacing on-street parking with a bike lane has little to no impact on local business, and in some cases might even increase business. While cyclists tend to spend less per shopping trip than drivers, they also tend to make more trips, pumping more total money into the local economy over time.
So to put these debates to rest we’ve compiled an annotated, chart-filled guide to every major study we know of conducted on the subject to date. Here they are, in no particular order, for your public meeting pleasure.
[Article includes studies in 12 cities, e.g.}.