Opposition to widened sidewalks or bike lanes is often based on the assumption that on-street parking is vital to business. Yet a new study showed that customers who arrived on foot, by transit or on bikes visited more often and reported spending more money than those who drove.
In the study, more than half of the merchants surveyed said “that reducing on-street parking by 50 per cent and adding a bike lane or widening sidewalks would either increase or have no impact on their daily number of customers.”
The report surveyed 96 merchants and 510 visitors in Toronto’s Bloor West Village in 2009. Similar research was carried on in the Bloor Annex neighbourhood in 2008. In both neighbourhoods, most of the merchants felt that an increase in sidewalk or bike infrastructure would increase or have no adverse effect on customer traffic.
“As the City of Toronto moves forward with the implementation of its Bike Plan and Walking Strategy, and as communities work towards more complete streets that balance the needs of all roads users,” said Eva Ligeti, Executive Director, Clean Air Partnership, “we hope that this research sheds much needed light on perceptions and misconceptions about the contributions of bike lanes, pedestrians and on-street parking to the vitality of neighbourhoods along major arterial streets.”
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