Further Evidence That Road Diets Don’t Hurt Businesses

An analysis of reported sales tax found that business in Seattle was not damaged when parking was removed on NE 65th Street to make way for bike infrastructure. Image: Seattle Transit Blog

It seems inevitable that when a new bike lane or road diet is proposed anywhere in the United States, business owners fret that a loss of parking will scare away customers. But as more cities pursue safer streets, more data is helping prove the dire predictions wrong. In fact, in many cases we’ve seen the opposite: cycling infrastructure seems to actually boost business.

Kyle Rowe at Seattle Transit Blog offers a new example today. Rowe examined taxable retail sales data on two streets where parking was eliminated to make room for cycling infrastructure in Seattle. In the first case, there was no noticeable change in revenue. In the second case, as shown above, sales spiked. Rowe explains his findings:

The results of this analysis are in the graph above, again with the bicycle lane signifying the construction of the project and the removal of the parking. Leading up to the construction and just afterwards NE 65th St performed very similar to both controls, however two quarters after the project was finished NE 65th St experienced a 350% increase in sales index, followed by another jump to 400% sales index the following quarter.

Even though the business district at 65th & Latona experienced a 400% increase in sales index after the project was finished, we cannot assume that this economic success was solely because of bicyclists. One could argue that the economic success likely wasn’t the product of motorists since their access was theoretically reduced, but without mode-split data before and after the project no conclusions can be made to assume which mode was most responsible for the economic change.

Looking at the data, one conclusion can clearly be made, these bicycle projects did not have a negative impact on the business districts in both case studies. This conclusion can be made because in both case studies the business district at the project site performed similarly or better than the controls.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Stop and Move says Elon Musk’s much-discussed Hyperloop proposal appears to be either a joke or an attempt to sabotage California High-Speed Rail. Human Transit wonders if texting and driving is pushing people toward transit. And Systemic Failure says a new “transit village” planned for a BART station is anything but.