The case for replacing on-street parking with cycle lanes

Street Parking & Traders

Proposals to install bike lanes on major streets are often met with opposition from merchants who fear that the reallocation of road space from on‐street parking to on‐street bike lanes would hurt business.

To encourage more Canadians to use bicycles for utilitarian trips more often, it is essential that the implementation of bike lanes on major streets be accelerated.

The Bloor‐Danforth corridor is a particularly attractive option for a citywide east‐west bike lane in Toronto because it is one of the only long, straight, relatively flat routes that connects the city from end to end; there are no streetcar tracks; and it has one of the highest incidences of bicycle collisions in the city.

This report is about the development and testing of new analytic tools to determine the public acceptability and economic impact of reallocating road space.

The study – conducted in July of 2008 – surveyed the opinions and preferences of 61 merchants and 538 patrons on Bloor Street and analysed parking usage data in the area.

Among the study’s findings:
• Only 10% of patrons drive to the Bloor Annex neighbourhood;
• Even during peak periods no more than about 80% of paid parking spaces are paid for;
• Patrons arriving by foot and bicycle visit the most often and spend the most money per month;
• There are more merchants who believe that a bike lane or widened sidewalk would increase business than merchants who think those changes would reduce business; • Patrons would prefer a bike lane to widened sidewalks at a ratio of almost four to one; and
• The reduction in on‐street parking supply from a bike lane or widened sidewalk could be accommodated in the area’s off‐street municipal parking lots.

The spending habits of cyclists and pedestrians, their relatively high travel mode share, and the minimal impact on parking all demonstrate that merchants in this area are unlikely to be negatively affected by reallocating on‐street parking space to a bike lane. On the contrary, this change will likely increase commercial activity.

It is recommended that this type of study be replicated on other commercial streets where there is concern about reducing parking to accommodate wider sidewalks or bicycle lanes.

Ref: Fred Sztabinski, Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business, Feb 2009 Full report:


Alan Preston here in Christchurch

Here's the link to an article from Copenhagen, Denmark on opposition from retailers to loosing curbside parking for the customers to make way for cycle lanes.

In the comments that follow the article there's a link to to an interview on the topic with
Jan Gehl ( the Danish town planner)

The mountain bikes and road racers which are prevalent in New Zealand are not usually set up to carry nor appropriate for large amounts of goods bought on shopping trips so it is not really surprising to me that ( what they define as) 'cyclists' ( i.e.high speed commuter cyclists) are not considered by shopkeepers as being worthy of being given priority over their car-driving 'punters'.
It could be argued that their perception of what cyclists are is too narrow,-but from what I see here, I can't say I'm surprised.
( I spent 10 years in Japan where you hardly ever see mountain bikes and road racers and where shopping centres are crowded with bicycles (on footpaths) with everyone carrying their shopping in baskets fitted to the bikes.

If the types of bicycles that are popular in countries where cycling is really prevalent were available here ( fitted with baskets etc) AND if 'slow' cyclists were not persecuted and prosecuted for riding on 'footpaths' ,it is possible that we would see a much more general uptake of cycling, especially among the types of people ( i.e . middle aged women, the elderly etc) whom the likes of retailers would be much more likely to see the economic sense in making provision for.

Alan Preston in Christchurch
Promoting urban appropriate utility bicycles and utility cycling in New Zealand

Hi Alan

I do all my shopping on my step-through ladies bike and I ride on the pavement when I'm traveling along busy roads. I have to say that I haven't felt persecuted yet and so far (it might just be luck) I haven't been prosecuted - although I was yelled at by a security guard once (but I think he was just really bored and needed to feel some power - poor man). My plan is to show other ladies how do-able, and how much fun, cycling is in the hope that they will give it a go.

Unfortunately, I have to say that any 'attitude' I get is generally from the sporty lycra set - even though I use my bicycle every day, I don't think I measure up as a proper cyclist!