The Future of Transportation—Myth 2: Your Road Project Will Kill My Small Business

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This is Part Two of a series on Transportation Myths as presented by transit rock stars Seleta Reynolds, GM of Los Angeles’ Transit Department and Janette Sadik-Khan, the award winning former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation. You can watch their whole transit-tastic discussion here.

Myth #2: I am running a tiny little business and what you’re doing is going to kill my business.

These concerns are very real, and when you talk about making changes to roadways, you’re talking about potentially killing a small business’s life blood. You have to take this seriously.

But Reynolds argues that small businesses also have poor judgment about how customers arrive at their business. In L.A. for example, about 85% of the folks who visited businesses on Polk Street came by transit and spent more at the stores over the course of a year. Drivers spent less.

An analysis of sales tax receipts in seven out of the eight commercial corridors in Los Angeles where major projects (plazas, bike lanes, etc.) took place showed that after projects were completed, sales tax receipts were higher than the year before and higher than peers in other neighborhoods. It was especially true for bars and restaurants. The improvements, it turns out, attract people and encourage them to linger longer.

Sadik-Khan says,

Cars don’t pick up a sandwich for lunch. Cars are lousy customers. There’s a huge body of evidence that proves pedestrians spend more than drivers. Transit riders spend more than drivers. Better streets are better for business. And it’s true around the world. London, Australian, New Zealand, Montreal, Portland, Seatlle, New York, Los Angeles…

Read Myth 1: Bike Lanes Makes Traffic Worse.

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