Did you catch the most recent issue of the Boulevard Sentinel? On the front page there’s an article about the new bike lanes on York Boulevard titled, “New York Blvd. Lane Striping Annoys Business“.
The article suggests that the newly extended bike lanes on York Boulevard could have a negative impact on business. In the article John Nese, the owner of Galco’s (located at 5702 York Boulevard, in front of the new bike lane) and the sole person interviewed, states the following:
“The bike lanes are nice, but they’re not good for business. You’re not gonna see anyone buying cases of soda pop or anything else sizable when they’re on a bicycle.”
I was rather surprised to read that quote from John Nese for several reasons.
First off, how can one evaluate the effects of a bike lane within mere days of its installation?
Also, Nese neglects to mention that the public requested bike racks at Galco’s and that he personally rejected the installation of free bike racks by the city. That’s right, someone requested bike racks in front of Galco’s– presumably because they shop there and arrive by bicycle.
Sure, most cyclists may not purchase “cases of soda pop”, but why does one have to buy only in bulk? A person arriving by bike (or foot, or transit) can easily pop in and buy a couple sodas and some candy, I know I have personally done this on a number of occasions. Not to mention, some bikes can indeed carry cases of soda. In fact, local bike shop Flying Pigeon LA – located 3 miles from Galco’s – sells bicycles specifically made for everyday transportation, including cargo bikes that could easily carry several cases of soda pop.
One of Flying Pigeon’s bikes in action. How many cases of soda pop do you think it can carry? Photo credit: ubrayj02
Nese’s statement also seems to be based only on a hunch, and not a well researched opinion. A recent study in Portland showed the following:
”…looking at single visits, car drivers spent more at supermarkets and restaurants than the other transport modes. Yet it turns out that walkers, bikers, and public transport takers visit the locations more frequently, and thus, over the space of a month, spent more.”
It turns out non-driving people can be better, and more regular customers– especially if these modes are better accommodated and integrated into our local transportation system, something this new bike lane helps do.
Further dispelling Nese’s assumption is a recent case study of York Boulevard itself. The study showed the presence of bike lanes did not hurt business in the section of York Boulevard – between Avenue 55 and Eagle Rock Boulevard – that had bike lanes prior to the recent extension (And yes, this study was conducted well after a year of the bike lane’s existence on that stretch of York Boulevard).
It is disappointing as it is strange to see the owner of a business called ” Galco’s: Old World Grocery” be so seemingly anti-bike. One would think that an “old world” grocery would be more supportive of measures that encourage locals to walk, or bike in to buy a few items.
Ultimately, to me, this is an issue of equality. People certainly don’t need soda and candy, but to have a local business owner unfairly (and incorrectly) characterize the shopping patterns of someone because of their mode of transportation isn’t right. Additionally, it should be known that Nese lied to the Boulevard Sentinel, claiming he felt bike lanes could be bad for business because he doesn’t think cyclists buy soda. The truth is Nese actively rejected free, City provided, bicycle parking requested by customers that shop there by bike. He worked against the ability of cyclists to shop at his business, suggesting he simply has an unfair bias against cyclists (and seemingly anyone who doesn’t buy “cases” of soda).
(Not to mention that with gas prices reaching record highs this past week, those who continue to drive to local businesses probably have less money to spend than people who get around by cheaper modes of transportation.)