You might have noticed the story floating around the internet this week about the new bike lanes in Salt Lake City, on a main commercial street in the downtown area. To build them, the city had to remove on-street (angle) parking.
As it turns out, getting rid of parking didn’t kill business on the street. To the contrary, for many people, business increased.
Here’s a chart showing a before-and-after survey result:
Here’s the key point from the article, via People For Bikes:
Salt Lake City’s experience shows that bike lanes are typically best for business when they’re part of a general rethinking of the street to make it a more pleasant place to linger.
“I think the key thing is the feel of the street,” said Phil Sarnoff, executive director of Bike Utah.
Sarnoff said that the thanks to the parallel parking and fewer lanes, car traffic had slowed down and more people in cars tend to stop for people at crosswalks.
“It’s never felt like a Broadway,” Sarnoff said. “Prior to this, it didn’t feel like a street that people want to walk up and down. I think it’s changed a little bit.”
In my experience, these kinds of examples have little effect on conversations with business owners. You can tell them about other cities, and offer evidence, but it won’t change many minds.
If only St Paul didn’t have a micro-economy…
We had several people from Salt Lake City at our table for a dinner on Tuesday night. When they found out that I write about transportation they give me and everyone at the table an earful about the awful bike lanes that were taking away parking and causing harm to businesses. This was an amazingly timely article for that discussion.
Right. Most business owners act like there’s no way anyone but themselves could possibly understand what’s good or bad for their business. Present them with evidence from one mile down their own street that shows their fear is unfounded and they’ll tell you that they just know their business will be destroyed by the bike lane, parking meters, or center median, whatever the change may be.