Every time anyone proposes the installation of bike lanes and the removal of parking spaces, local retailers complain that it will kill their business. In fact, study after study show that building pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets increases sales. A new study of two bike lanes in Seattle by Kyle Rowe shows in one case, an increase in retail sales of almost 400%. Rowe writes:
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.
That number is huge, and Rowe concedes that "we cannot assume that this economic success was solely because of bicyclists." Looking at the original study, there is a definition of "sales index":
When comparing business districts of different sizes, researchers need a method for comparing the economics on the same scale. The best way to do this is to use sales indexing, which divides the total retail sales by the number of business that report sales, and then compares that average to the baseline (first quarter reported) of the dataset. When comparing NBDs, a sales index allows us to look at how each district performs compared to the same starting value – 100%.
It could be that some killer store opened with huge sales at the same time and skewed the data. Certainly 400% seems huge and might be an outlier.
However Rowe studied two bike lane installations, and the other, while not nearly as dramatic, showed that the installation of the "road diet" had no negative impact on retail sales. He concludes:
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.
Read more at Seattle Transit Blog