Study Shows Bike Lanes are Good For Business


By Charles Pekow

Cycling West Cycling Utah LogoYou’ve heard it before but here’s one more example you can cite to argue that bike lanes help business. An academic study in San Francisco found bike lanes “rarely produce profoundly negative outcomes, and that they are often associated with positive business performance outcomes.” But they affect different types of enterprises differently. Planners, therefore, should consider the mix of establishments when adding bike lanes in commercial areas.

Bicycle Lanes and Business Success: A San Francisco Examination published in Transportation Research Record ( found that in two of three areas studied, sales went up “markedly” after bike lanes were installed. It seemed to have hurt in the third area but the study concludes “(b)icycle lanes do not seem to have the catastrophic negative effect on business that some merchants claim.” Businesses that serve local residents seemed to benefit more than others.

The study did not, however, compare areas with bike lanes with neighboring ones without them. Nor did it consider the possible effects of removing parking spaces to provide bike lanes.


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Charles Pekow is an award-winning Washington correspondent who has written about bicycling for years in publications such as the Washington Post, Bicycle Times, Dirt Rag, SPOKES, etc. as well as Cycling West/Cycling Utah. He also writes frequently on environmental issues and beer, among other topics. Weather permitting, you'll find him most weekends and some summer evenings astride a bicycle in a park. He is also a charter member of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.


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