The Connection Between Transportation and Retail
NYC’s Department of Finance recently found that after improvements to transit and pedestrian infrastructure, local retail revenues jumped by 73 percent. The project included a package of improvements, including dedicated bus lanes, reduction of parking space, and added parking meters. As is usual with these types of street improvements, local merchants opposed the improvements in the planning stage, and claimed it hurt their revenues after it was implemented.
The evidence gathered by NYC speaks to the contrary. This shows evidence for what should be obvious: that transit riders, cyclists, and pedestrians spend money too. In fact, the NY Post has found that many of New York’s innovative streetscaping, which includes pedestrian plazas and bike lanes, have precipitated a rise in retail revenues in their areas.
What does this mean for our city? We have had many of the same improvements in Vancouver, from street closures on Granville and Robson to bus lanes to those headline-grabbing bike lanes. We also get similar push back from businesses that claim that ready car access and free parking is the only option for bringing in customers. The results in New York suggest that this economy vs. livability dilemma may be an illusion. Complete streets, when done well, can in fact be good for business. The perplexing part, however, is that improving the lot of businesses and convincing them that their revenues have increased has not proved to be the same thing.