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Do Bike Lanes Hurt Businesses?

By Expert Author: Greg Phillips

Do bike lanes hurt local businesses? Bike accident lawyers face this issue on a regular basis as accident victims are forced to navigate unaccommodating streets in the name of commerce. Furthermore, this question has been at the forefront of numerous California debates recently.

For example, in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles, local officials recently implemented new bike lanes along the main thoroughfare of Colorado Blvd., along the stretch that connects the city of Pasadena to Glendale. A small cadre of businesses owners on Colorado Blvd. cried foul, claiming that the new bike lanes would eliminate valuable parking spaces and hurt their sales.

A very similar debate is playing out in San Francisco. Polk Street has been the subject of numerous bicycle accidents in recent months, due to its lack of bicycle accessibility. The City Council has resolved to add bike lanes to the street, but once again, certain businesses are up in arms. But do bike lanes really make the streets more dangerous?

Bike lanes, bicycle accidents and the almighty dollar

In response to a similar debate in Seattle, a University of Washington student recently decided to put these concerns to the test. Kyle Rowe, a built environment student, assembled a comprehensive case study to assess the impact of bike lanes on retail sales. Rowe specifically looked at 65th Street, a street that eliminated its 12 parking spaces in favor of bike lanes back in 2012. Astonishingly, Rowe found that not only did sales remain strong after the parking spaces were eliminated, but sales actually increased by 400 percent.

In order to ensure that his results weren't a fluke, Rowe then assessed a second street that had undergone a similar transformation. In that case, sales remained consistent in the months before and after the construction of bike lanes. This body data seems to demonstrate that—at the very least—bike lanes do not harm local enterprise. But there's an even bigger issue to consider here.

It's about bike safety

Ultimately, this is an issue of bike safety. Cyclists have the same rights as motorists, and when busy metropolitan streets provide inadequate accommodations for bicyclists, everyone suffers, and bicycle accidents abound. Many of these bicycle accidents result in catastrophic injury and even death. There is an ever-increasing movement to provide safety and security to bicyclists, spearheaded by bike shops, bicycle manufacturers and cyclists and cycle clubs. Even the legal industry has begun to contribute to the growing chorus of concerned voices in the wake of increased accidents, even though San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles personal injury attorneys that specialize in bike accidents are doing brisk business.

We should be putting the safety of all commuters above all else.

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