Would you believe that by allowing pedestrians and cyclists more room to safely navigate New York's streets away from the screeching metal boxes that belch dinosaur guts into our lungs, local businesses thrive and less people are injured or killed? According to a DOT study [PDF] released yesterday, pedestrian plazas and bike lanes have spurred marked increases in safety as well as retail sales of shops nearby. Bike lanes along 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan helped boost business by as much as 49%, while businesses next to a pedestrian plaza along Pearl Street in DUMBO saw a 172% increase in sales.
The DOT completed the analysis by looking at the businesses' tax receipts. “Measuring the economic impact of changes to our streets has largely been unchartered [sic] territory," DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told the Daily News. "These projects aren't just about the quality of life and aesthetics. They really set the table for economic development." Improved bus service is also good for business: Fordham Road in the Bronx saw a 71% increase in sales after the department installed bus lanes.
The report also underscores what any other sane person has known for some time [PDF]: pedestrian plazas and bike lanes make cars slow down, which in turn makes roads safer. First and Second Avenues in Manhattan saw a 37% decrease in crashes that resulted in injuries after installing their bike lanes. 8th and 9th Avenues saw 35% and 58% decreases in injuries for both pedestrians and cyclists with the creation of bike lanes. And don't let February's "No One Is Using These Stupid Bike Lanes" stories (you know they're coming) fool you: bike lanes mean more cyclists. 177% more in the six months since they were installed on First and Second Avenues alone.
So the myth that bike lanes kill businesses looks to be dead, but that likely won't stop some people from repeating it. We're eagerly awaiting Steve Cuozzo's next column, "New York City Was Just Grittier & Realer Without All This Economic Development."