To certain business owners (all of Hawthorne, I'm looking at you) who go into hysterics when the city suggests doing away with some of Portland's free parking, there's heartening news from our Canadian friends: according to this Toronto study, replacing car parking with bike lanes or widened sidewalks helps local businesses.
According to the study, people walking or biking to stores are more likely to actually spend money than those who come by cars. And if the area seems like a good place to walk around, people are more likely to hang out at close-by stores for longer.
This is super relevant to Portland right now because the city is on a car to bike parking conversion spree. So far, Portland has converted 55 car parking spots into 664 bike parking spots in bike corrals. The on-street corrals cost about $3,000 each, including installation. And, according to city bike parking planner Sarah Figliozzi, Portland is going to try to double the number of corrals in the city within two years. Though a hard-numbers study of the economic impact of bike corrals is currently in process, Figliozzi says that anecdotally, "Everyone has been coming back super happy." The city is installing corrals only in front of businesses that request them and the wait list right now is 30 stores deep.
So will places like Hawthorne eventually come around to the idea of replacing their car parking with bike spots, lanes or more sidewalk? The Portland 2030 bike plan (which is looking for public comment starting today!) runs a bike lane up Hawthorne, aiming to add about 300 miles of bikeways in Portland over the next 20 years. There's no way the city can build those 300 miles if each mile is rammed down the throat of businesses upset about sacrificing space for cars. Instead, it would be great if businesses could drive the change for bike improvements, like they have been with the corrals, and make money with each switch.