Will Bike Lanes Help or Hurt Business on Bulldog?

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I recently attended a conference where I discussed our plans for Bulldog Ave. I mentioned that we were causing some stress to some of the businesses along the route. I’m sympathetic with the their concerns and want to make sure any changes we make are in the best interest of the overall city. We have a corridor that has a State-wide-reputation as a dangerous street with a very high number of accidents. It also lacks curb appeal. And yet some of the business are concerned that a lack of access with hurt them.

When I mentioned our situation I was quickly referred to an expert on this very issue who happened to be attending the same conference. She felt strongly that the changes would be beneficial for all including the businesses. I asked her if she had come across any data that would support her views and she promised to look for some. Little did I expect that within a few days she would be giving me data from Salt Lake City.

She shared an article, “How Bike Lanes Helped Salt Lake City Businesses.” Although their situation is not the same, the bottom line is that business is up 20% since last year. How is that so? “The bike lanes and lower speed limits help to calm car traffic and increase pedestrian traffic — all positives for my business” said business owner John Mueller. 

According to the article, “Bike traffic increased by 30 percent, which could account for some of the additional business. But more likely than not, the boost is due to the creation of a more pleasant district for those lingering and shopping.”

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  1. Brian

    I live near there and see tons of pedestrians taking their lives in their hands walking up and down that street. I also ride bikes and would never ride that road the way it is. I think it will be a big eye opener to the businesses. Now if we could somehow create a build-to line in the parking lots where future businesses can build new shops right up to a nice wide 20′ sidewalk with parking in the back. Right now the distance to some shops across parking lots for pedestrians is highly disconnected. That would make it one of the best places to walk and bike in the county.

  2. Jonathan

    Certainly it will help. When I lived in Provo my bike commute required me to take it up thru BYU campus. It was a cyclists nightmare and there were always accidents @ bulldog & university. Please make this road safe for all people.

  3. Has anyone got data supporting the need for such exclusive bike lanes? How many people actually travel back and forth consistently on Bulldog by car who would ride a bike instead?

  4. Has anyone got data supporting the need for such exclusive bike lanes? How many people actually travel back and forth consistently on Bulldog by car who would ride a bike instead? It seems like a major undertaking if there’s no need for it.

    1. Brian

      This article addresses the need to support everyone, not just cars in our transportation systems.
      https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/salt-lake-city-first-protected-bike-intersection

      The article included in this blog post talks about a 30% increase in bikes once the lanes were put in in SLC. It also talks about how in spite of bike traffic increasing, the real reason people stay and shop is it is a more comfortable, inviting space to be in. No longer is the sidewalk just for point A to point B but an enjoyable walk from point A to point B. Currently even for pedestrians it is nerve racking to walk down bulldog because the traffic is so close and driving so fast.
      https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/bike-lanes-help-salt-lake-city-economy

      1. Brian

        Bike lanes seem to be a built it and they will come sort of scenario. Who would think that a bike trail would spur economic investment and development resulting in a 90% increase in property values? Who believes that a bike trail can attract 1.5 million annual users in a snowy winter city? Residents in Minneapolis couldn’t have imagined that their bike trail would ever do that, but it did. If a snowy city like Minneapolis can invest in bike infrastructure to great success, so can beautiful Utah. http://www.railstotrails.org/trailblog/2015/october/16/minnesota-s-midtown-greenway/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enews

    2. brian

      These aren’t data specifically for Bulldog, but examples of other places who more or less implemented the same thing, and the results they achieved.

      http://gizmodo.com/bike-lanes-dont-cause-traffic-if-you-put-them-in-the-1562247652
      I love the comment that explains this more clearly why traffic technically increases, but isn’t congested. Take 5 cars on a 4 lane road, reduce that road to 3 lanes, are you congested? I drive Bulldog all the time and I am generally within the first 1-2 cars at a red light. (excepting for example days like the 4th of july parade and such.) So after the road diet will place me back 3-4 maybe even 5 cars back from the front. Not anywhere near congested at all. Well worth the increased safety to bikes and pedestrians. Not to mention I would ride my bike more, thereby being one less car to cause congestion. Studies show others would do the same. We have even considered riding our bikes to the 4th parade but there isn’t a safe route. With safer bike lanes I and my family and many others would probably ride our bikes to the parade thereby reducing traffic (and parking issues) even more.

      http://gizmodo.com/the-surprising-reason-why-bike-lanes-could-be-good-for-1631152746

      An explanation of what the Bulldog changes are:
      http://gizmodo.com/what-the-heck-is-a-road-diet-1727066519

      This is what we need! City wide. Thank you SLC for putting an example so close to home!
      http://gizmodo.com/how-a-former-video-game-designer-created-the-best-inter-1707758013

  5. Rob

    I think that giving up a lane of traffic for a bike lane is a bad idea. When I drive or walk along Bulldog it seems like there are 50 cars or more for every bike. Isn’t there enough room to put in a center divider and take a few feet for a small bike lane and keep three lanes for traffic?

    1. Brian

      It is more than just a bike lane. It is a much more enjoyable space for pedestrians as well. It is a better designed street that gives everyone options to transport themselves how they see fit. Currently, pedestrians are stuck between parking lots and a high speed road with no buffer. (It isn’t a pleasant experience currently to walk down Bulldog) Bikes have zero space of their own but are forced to ride in traffic, with people who don’t think they should be in traffic. With speed limits they can’t possibly maintain. That’s why you don’t see very many bikes currently. This plan gives everyone the space they really need and makes it better for everyone. Even cars.

      1. John

        Brian, Very well said!

      2. Rob

        Brian, are you being paid to support this project in some way? Your spin seems more enthusiastic than someone who uses that road regularly. There is a perfectly good bike lane on 8th and it doesn’t get a lot of bike traffic. If you want to make a park or convert a rail line to a bike trail I will be all for it if we can do it without restricting a road that a lot of people drive on.

      3. Brian

        I am not being paid in any sort of way. No spin intended. You have another opinion due to your own personal history, needs, and perceptions and that is wonderful! We are different, and that is great! I am incredibly passionate about great infrastructure that doesn’t ostracize people because they choose to travel differently than others. I believe everyone deserves to have space on a street. Streets are for people. All people.

        “In a very elemental way, streets allow people to be outside… streets are what constitute the outside for many urbanites; places to be when they are not indoors. And streets are places of social and commercial encounter and exchange. They are where you meet people–which is a basic reason to have cities in any case. People who really do not like other people, not even to see them in any numbers, have good reason not to live in cities or to live isolated from city streets. The street is movement; to watch, to pass, movement especially of people; of fleeting faces and forms, changing postures and dress. You see people ahead of you or over your shoulder or not at all, absorbed in whatever has taken hold of you for the moment, but aware and comforted by the presence of others all the same. It is possible to stand in one place, or to sit and watch the show. The show is not always pleasant, not always smiles or greeting or lovers hand in hand. There are cripples and beggars and people with abnormalities and , like the lovers, they can give pause: they are reasons for reflection and thought. Everyone can use the street. Being on the street and seeing people, it is possible to meet them, ones you know or new ones. Knowing the rhythm of a street is to know who may be on it or at a certain place along it during a given period; knowing who can be seen there or avoided. Or the meeting can be by chance and for a split second but immensely satisfying. To be walking on the Via Arenula in Rome, not a particularly fine street, and to hear ‘Hello Allan” shouted from a passing bus and to recognize Maurizio and to wave in return to his window-constrained flapping forearm. is to feel greeted and welcomed, to be part of something larger than oneself. As well as to see, the street is a place to be seen. Sociability is a large part of why cities exist and streets are a major if not the only public place for that sociability to develop. At the same time, the street is a place to be alone, to be private, to wonder what it was once like, or what it could be like. It is a place for the mind to wander, triggered by something there on the street or by something internal, more personal. A place to walk while whatever is inside unfolds, yet again.” Allan B. Jacobs, “Great Streets”

        For me, It’s about more than just a bike lane.

  6. Jacob

    As a student at Provo High, I go out to eat lunch a lot. I think that is one reason there are so many accidents. The sidewalk on Bulldog Blvd is really narrow and it gets crowded with so many kids, so they walk really close to the road. Lots of them don’t want to waste time, so they Jaywalk. If there was a bike line AND a center median, I’m sure it would definitely help with the safety of the street.

  7. Aaron Skabelund

    The answer to the question posed is that yes the Bulldog project will definitely help business, though it may not be best for particular businesses currently on Bulldog. But why should be (re)design our streets to nourish fast-food restaurants? As we create a space that is more bicyclist and pedestrian friendly, AND safer for drivers too, as well as much more aesthetically pleasing, business will adjust (some businesses may suffer and leave, some will thrive, new ones will arrive, this is capitalism), change will happen, and this corridor and Provo’s economic vitality will be heightened, and quality of life will be much improved for all.

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