Cyclists and Bike Lanes Have a Positive Impact on Shopping.

May 20, 2014

It turns out that cyclists and Bike Lanes are GOOD for business.  The Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank together with the School of the Environment at the University of Toronto completed a study in November 2013 on the economic impact of cyclists and bike lanes on local retailers and businesses in urban areas in North America.  The study focused mainly on Toronto where a recent Spacing Magazine article in their  Bike issue revealed that between 2006 and 2011 there was a 75% increase in overall bicycle use.  In the lower west end of the city (Ward 19 – Trinity – Spadina) an astonishing 11.35% of all trips were taken by bike.  Two Toronto studies also showed that cyclists in pre-war urban neighbourhoods contribute significantly to businesses’ sales and are in fact higher per-capita monthly spenders than drivers

bike posts ttc

The report attempted to answer 4 questions:

1. How can transportation infrastructure best serve urban businesses?
Is urban transportation infrastructure in tune with modern mode share realities? How accurate are current mode-share perceptions
among business owners? Is the current allocation of resources optimal?
2. Are cyclists good for business?
Who are cyclists as a demographic, and what does this mean for businesses? What is the economic potential of catering to cyclists in
North America today?
3. How does bicycle infrastructure affect businesses? How does removal of on-street parking affect
How do bicycle lanes and other forms of cycling infrastructure affect the business environment? What if bike lanes are competing
for space with on-street parking?
4. Can bike lanes and on-street parking coexist?
Are configurations that accommodate both bicycle lanes and on-street parking more desirable where viable? Are they ever viable?

Of special interest to commercial and investment property owners is that  “evidence suggests bike lanes effectively act as a catalyst for economic activity. For example, the implementation of  physically separated bike lanes in New York City led to widespread economic benefits along the streets where these lanes were located. These bike lanes contributed to a 49% increase in retail sales in businesses located on 9th Avenue compared to a 3%  increase borough wide, 49% fewer commercial vacancies on Union Square, compared to a 5% increase borough wide, and a large  increase in bicycle volumes on First and Second Avenues accompanied by 47% fewer commercial vacancies which compared to 2%  more vacancies borough wide.”

Another interesting detail mentioned in the report was that “the perception that customers are likely to arrive by car in dense urban areas continues to be held by many retailers – even if other travel modes have firmly established themselves as the most popular. Studies conducted in downtown neighbourhoods of Toronto and Vancouver have shown that business operators tend to overestimate the number of customers arriving by car, and that the volume of customers who arrive by car is small in comparison to that of those who don’t (see graph below). In The Annex, a landmark  Toronto neighbourhood where customers are more likely to arrive by cycling than by driving (12% cycling mode share vs. 10% car mode share), retailers overestimated the car mode share on average by 100%. Merchants from Bloor West Village, where car use is more prevalent, also over-estimated the number of drivers visiting their stores by 100%.

perception bike-car


Bicycle infrastructure has the power to bring very positive economic impacts to businesses along our main streets in Toronto and can help to relieve pressure on our over-burdened transportation infrastructure!  To read the entire article go to the Toronto Think & Do Tank website:  Cycists, Bike Lanes and On-Street Parking: Economic Impacts