Research from New York City notes that newly installed protected bike lanes do more than keep bikers safe—they raise the income of the stores they are in front of.
Ben Schiller, May 13, 2013
We’ve written before about cyclonomics—the economic impact of biking. Studies show that cycling brings in tourists, delivers jobs, and boosts retail sales.
Now comes more evidence: a report from New York looking at the impact of a single bike lane, and another from Oregon, looking at tourism spending. Neither will placate drivers who want roads to themselves—but anyway.
Local stores next to the protected bike lane have seen a 49% increase in sales.
New York may have dropped in a recent ranking of cycling cities. But it does have some world class infrastructure, including a "complete street" on 9th Avenue, with a protected bike lane. Built in 2007, it was controversial at the time (like everything else bike-related in the city). But a study by the Department of Transport finds that it’s paid dividends economically. Local stores between 23rd and 31st streets have seen a 49% increase in sales, compared to an average of 3% for Manhattan as a whole.
The DOT doesn’t give an explanation. But other research has shown similar things. While bikers tend to spend less per visit than drivers, they spend more over a month, according to one Portland study. Bike advocates note that you can park more bikes in a limited space than you can family-sized vehicles.
The Oregon study, by Dean Runyan Associates, measures the impact of bike tourism. Based on a survey of about 5,000 people, it finds that vacationing bikers spent $400 million last year, or $1.2 million a day. Of that, $175 million went on accommodation and food, $54 million on groceries, and $28 million on bike repairs, clothing, and gear. Bike tourism also secured 4,600 jobs, the report says, and $18 million in tax receipts.
Of course, these are all the positive stories. We don’t hear about the economic disadvantages of bike lanes, if there are any, because the studies, generally, don’t get done. Still, the evidence is mounting for biking’s positivity. It’s not just good for you, but good for the economy, too.