Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business — A Study of Bloor Street in Toronto’s Annex Neighbourhood was recently published by Totonto’s Clean Air Partnership. The study set out to understand and estimate the importance of onstreet parking to business on Bloor Street in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto.
From the study:
The spending habits of cyclists and pedestrians, their relatively high travel mode share, and the minimal impact on parking all demonstrate that merchants in this area are unlikely to be negatively affected by reallocating on–street parking space to a bike lane. On the contrary, this change will likely increase commercial activity.
It is recommended that this type of study be replicated on other commercial streets where there is concern about reducing parking to accommodate wider sidewalks or bicycle lanes. Specifically, the researchers also recommend that the City of Toronto use this study to look more closely at the future of Bloor Street as a candidate for a cross–town bikeway.
In 2006, Transportation Alternatives published a similar study that examined the travel, shopping and spending patterns of visitors, residents and workers on Prince Street, in the historic SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. Its findings were similar:
The major implication of the study is that Prince Street would be improved for visitors, residents and workers through an expansion of the space allocated to pedestrians. Doing so would relieve that current overcrowding on the sidewalks. Merchants would benefit as those who patronize the neighborhood’s stores and restaurants would come more often, drawn by the reduced crowding on sidewalks. This increased patronage would offset by a five to one ratio any lost retail sales from those not coming due to reduced parking spaces.
We need more studies like these. Too often merchants quickly rally against reduced parking based upon the assumption that it will negatively affect business, without first considering the potential increase in business that can be brought on by improved pedestrian and bicycling facilities.