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Bike lanes, On-street Parking and Business: Report

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 2nd, 2010

Source: Victoria Walks

Bike lanes, on-street parking and business is a research report from Toronto showing that people who walked to their local shopping area spent more money compared to people who travelled there by car.

“The reallocation of street use from on-street parking to active transportation infrastructure such as widened sidewalks or bike lanes has become a controversial issue in many cities over the past several decades. Opposition to such changes is often based on the assumption that on-street parking is vital to business and that removing on-street parking will decrease customer numbers and therefore commercial activity. However, cities are becoming increasingly interested in providing space for active transportation, citing the health, safety and environmental benefits as primary catalysts.”

Executive Summary:

Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business was conceived as a research study to investigate the attitudes of merchants to the reallocation of street use from on-street parking to active transportation infrastructure, to test assumptions about modal share and economic activity, and to gauge merchants’ and residents’ preferences for changes in street use allocation.

This report presents the findings of surveys of 96 merchants and 510 visitors in Bloor West Village. Among the findings:

  • 4 out of 5 people surveyed do not usually drive to the area
  • Merchants overestimated the percentage of people who drive to Bloor West Village and yet more than half of merchants surveyed believed that reducing on-street parking by 50% and adding a bike lane or widening sidewalks would either increase or have no impact on their daily number of customers
  • People who arrive by transit, foot, and bicycle visit more often and report spending more money than those who drive
  • People who preferred to see street use reallocated for widened sidewalks or a bike lane were significantly more likely to spend more than $100 per month than those who preferred no change.
  • The majority of people surveyed (58%) preferred to see street use reallocated for widened sidewalks or a bike lane, even if on-street parking were reduced by 50%

In this neighbourhood, the majority of merchants predicted that reducing on street parking in favour of widened sidewalks or a bike lane would either not impact or increase their daily customer numbers, and therefore do not believe it will negatively affect commercial activity. The large percentage of visitors arriving by transit, bicycle or foot, combined with their spending habits and preference for widened sidewalks or a bike lane, suggests that changes in the use of street space may not necessarily have a negative impact on commercial activity. Both results contrast the common perception that removing on-street parking is “bad for business”.

This study was conducted as a follow up to similar research conducted in the summer of 2008 in the Bloor Annex neighbourhood in Toronto. Overall support for changes in street use allocation was greater in the Bloor Annex neighbourhood than Bloor West Village. However in both neighbourhoods, the majority of merchants believed that changes to accommodate an increase in pedestrian or cyclist infrastructure would increase or would not change their daily number of customers.

In both neighbourhoods, walking is the dominant mode of travel (46% of the visitors surveyed in both study areas). Bicycling is more common in the Annex, and driving is more common in Bloor West Village. In terms of preferences in street use allocation changes, bike lanes are preferred over widened sidewalks in both neighbourhoods. In Bloor West Village, the preference of change to no change is almost equal, whereas in the Bloor Annex neighbourhood, surveyed visitors preferred change by a ratio of nearly 4 to1.

Source: Victoria Walks

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