Slog tippers Mark and Dan point out that local treasure Seattle Transit Blog has made it to the homepage of Salon.com with a recent analysis of taxable retail sales data from businesses in neighborhoods with shiny new bike lanes. If you'll recall, residents, businesses, and car lovers in several Seattle neighborhoods have vocally opposed the addition of bike lanes, claiming (among other things) that taking away car lanes would hurt businesses. But the actual result? At the very least, taking away car lanes to make room for bikes didn't hurt businesses, and at best, sales jumped by as much as 400 percent.
Take it away, STB:
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.
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. You may be thinking, “why can’t we conclude that NE 65th St benefited from the bicycle facility?” This is where retail sales data presents a barrier in analyzing street improvements.
Of course, author Kyle Rowe cautions that those incredible results can't be solely attributed to bike lanes, without further study. Still, this initial data is pretty striking.