Do Bike Lanes Hurt Local Businesses?

Cyclists biking in the citySan Diego is well-known for being bike friendly, and with plans moving forward like the Downtown Mobility Plan and SANDAGs’ $200 million bike initiative, it’s clear our city is committed to cycling. Bikes lanes are a cornerstone of San Diego’s accessibility, but not everyone is happy when a new bike lane shows up. Namely, businesses.

The main objection that some business owners have regarding new bike lanes is that bike lanes have an economic toll on businesses. The argument is that when a bike lane is built and takes up space on the curbside, that space means that businesses will have less parking for customers.

Does the argument hold up? Not really. Firstly, when sharrows are added to a road (thin bike lanes that are painted on roads), it’s not common for parking spots to be taken up. When protected bike lanes are built, yes, spots do get taken up, but studies across the country on other bike-friendly cities show that bike lanes have a negligible effect on the number of customers that visit a business. If anything, it may actually increase customers by opening bike access to those businesses. For example, a report by Circulate San Diego, a nonprofit that advocates for active and public transportation, found that sales at 97 La Jolla businesses increase by 26 percent after changes were made to make the areas more bike and pedestrian friendly.

Furthermore, other states have actually found that the presence of bike lanes is correlated with an increase in city real estate value.


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