Want To Make Money? Build A Business On A Bike Lane

Research from New York City notes that newly installed protected bike lanes do more than keep bikers safe—they raise the income of the stores they are in front of.

We’ve written before about cyclonomics—the economic impact of biking. Studies show that cycling brings in tourists, delivers jobs, and boosts retail sales.

Now comes more evidence: a report from New York looking at the impact of a single bike lane, and another from Oregon, looking at tourism spending. Neither will placate drivers who want roads to themselves—but anyway.

New York may have dropped in a recent ranking of cycling cities. But it does have some world class infrastructure, including a "complete street" on 9th Avenue, with a protected bike lane. Built in 2007, it was controversial at the time (like everything else bike-related in the city). But a study by the Department of Transport finds that it’s paid dividends economically. Local stores between 23rd and 31st streets have seen a 49% increase in sales, compared to an average of 3% for Manhattan as a whole.

The DOT doesn’t give an explanation. But other research has shown similar things. While bikers tend to spend less per visit than drivers, they spend more over a month, according to one Portland study. Bike advocates note that you can park more bikes in a limited space than you can family-sized vehicles.

The Oregon study, by Dean Runyan Associates, measures the impact of bike tourism. Based on a survey of about 5,000 people, it finds that vacationing bikers spent $400 million last year, or $1.2 million a day. Of that, $175 million went on accommodation and food, $54 million on groceries, and $28 million on bike repairs, clothing, and gear. Bike tourism also secured 4,600 jobs, the report says, and $18 million in tax receipts.

Of course, these are all the positive stories. We don’t hear about the economic disadvantages of bike lanes, if there are any, because the studies, generally, don’t get done. Still, the evidence is mounting for biking’s positivity. It’s not just good for you, but good for the economy, too.

Add New Comment


  • flying dutch

    Great to hear.
    Related, but more bike parking, as no doubt covered by Roger Geller and friends in Portland;
    Melbourne retail strips benefiting from improved bike parking and a detailed paper ion the economics of it

  • gleejb

    At the annual Bike Summit in Washington D.C., organized by
    the League of American Bicyclists we heard about these numbers from NYC from
    Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.  My question then and now is how this
    information applies to cities and towns with a lesser population density?

    Let’s look at the population densities:  NYC has 27,016 people per sq.
    mile.  Albuquerque has 2,908 people per sq. mile.  For comparison,
    Portland shows 4,376 people per sq. mile. 
    (numbers calculated from
    <http: en.wikipedia.org="" list_of_united_states_cities_by_area="" wiki="">)

    From my point of view, this development in NYC is not that useful for figuring
    out what will increase bicycle ridership in a town like mine.  Here in New
    Mexico I think the situation is different enough that this model, as cool as it
    is, is just not applicable.  In Albuquerque, the largest city in NM, if
    you put something together like 8th and 9th Ave. the real issue would be how to
    get cyclists TO those stretches of avenue with protected bike lanes. 

    If our city planners tried to use this model here, I would go so far as saying
    that it could even be counter-productive.  I think that what would happen
    is that we would end-up encouraging a drive and ride model, where people drive
    their bikes to a place they want to ride.  Now maybe this would be good
    for the economy, boosting gas sales as well as retail sales, but it won't
    reduce congestion, pollution or parking issues.  It also will not help
    people with health, weight or sedentary lifestyle issues.  It might even
    increase road and parking lot rage. 

    I really like it that city planners are looking at cycling in a broader
    way.  Increasing the support for all forms of alternative transportation
    is long overdue in American cities.  Just remember that a one size fits
    all approach is probably not a good idea.

    Tourism benefits can be had by cities and towns of all sizes, so the Portland
    study may be more broadly useful.  I know that in Silver City, NM during a
    five day stage race that takes place there annually, the Tour of the Gila,
    <http: www.tourofthegila.com=""> over half a million dollars comes into
    Grant County.  Silver City has about 1,028 people per sq. mile.

    For cities and towns without the population density to support the same things
    as NYC, a focus on things that put more cyclists on the road, like acceptance
    of bicycles by motorists (read high perceived and actual safety) might be a
    better way to boost the bottom line. 


  • dzimm

    OK well I will have to plead ignorance on Albuquerque's situation.  A bike and ride model may not work out there.  I live in Salem, VA which is just outside of Roanoke VA.  When I go to Roanoke I will often drive partway and then ride the rest.  I am one of the few that seems to be out there doing that and I wonder how it would work if a significant portion of the population were doing it as well.  

  • gleejb

     Albuquerque has 486 square miles and a little over 500,000 people.  Where exactly do you think the edge of our city would be?  Again we have a population density, which equates to shopping area density, that is an order of magnitude less than NYC.  The "edge" would be driving to some part of the city with not only a bike lane but the shopping density to make it worth it, unloading your bike and going shopping.  All the roads that lead to this spot would at least see the same congestion.  And then there is the parking issue!  We see this right now, not with a bike lane artery where people can go shopping but at the entrance points to a multi use path that runs along our Rio Grand riverway through the middle of town.  Parking lots are packed, it is a pain to get in and out of them, and on a nice weekend, the multi use paths are completely overcrowded, so as to become unsafe at times.

  • dzimm

    " I think that what would happen

    is that we would end-up encouraging a drive and ride model, where people drive
    their bikes to a place they want to ride.  Now maybe this would be good
    for the economy, boosting gas sales as well as retail sales, but it won't
    reduce congestion, pollution or parking issues."
    I disagree, congestion would decrease.  Lets say you drive to the edge of the city park and then ride into the city in the saddle.  Wouldn't that produce less automobile congestion on city streets?