Protected Bike Lanes Mean Business — in SF and Around the Country

The number of people biking in San Francisco has doubled since 2006, and every day more people discover the joys of biking in our city. This trend is great for our city’s health, environment and livability. And now a new report from People for Bikes and the Alliance for Biking & Walking reveals that more people biking is great for our local economy, too.

The report titled, “Protected Bike Lanes Mean Business,” profiles 15 entrepreneurs and business leaders from major U.S. cities — including San Francisco’s Green Apple Books, David Baker Architecture and Credo Mobile — to explain how protected bike lanes have meant big benefits for their companies.

New report reveals positive impacts of bike lanes on local economy

New report reveals positive impacts of bike lanes on local economy

The extensive report showcases four main takeaways:

1. People shopping by bike spend more at local businesses than those who drive.

The report shows how customers on bikes visit local shops more frequently, spending more per month than people arriving by car. In Portland, for example, studies showed that people traveling by bike to a shopping area spent 24% more per month than those who travelled by car. And on 9th Avenue in New York, local businesses saw up to a 49% increase in retail sales, compared to just a 3% increase in the rest of Manhattan. Here in San Francisco, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s study of Polk Street reaffirms this concept, as people biking, walking and taking transit all spend more at Polk Street businesses than those driving.

2. Businesses are relocating to areas with great bike networks, and having a business near bike lanes helps attract and retain quality employees.

Adding protected bikeways in downtown and business corridors reduces chaos on the streets and helps companies attract and retain great employees. Employers say their headhunters get a competitive edge by locating in areas with great biking networks, so savvy companies are locating near protected bike lanes to attract and keep high-quality employees.

When Jeff Judge, co-founder of marketing firm Signal, was considering moving his company from Chicago to Boston, bike infrastructure was at the top of the list of factors. “The first thing I looked at was what the bike infrastructure is like in Boston,” said Judge. “It’s so important to me. Cities that invest in biking infrastructure are going to win. It’s better for business. It’s better for planning. It’s better for infrastructure. It’s better all around.”

3. More people biking to work creates a healthier workforce.

Employees who bike to work also help to bring down a company’s health care costs by being on-time, productive and healthy. Sedentary jobs and modes of travel are contributing to an increase in health care costs. More people biking means a healthier workforce, and less money that the company and city spend on healthcare. Additionally, people who bike to work usually arrive on-time and are more productive.

4. Americans, especially younger Americans, are driving less and biking more.

National data also shows that more Americans, especially young people, are driving less and biking more. 16-24 year olds are getting driver’s licenses at the lowest rate since 1963, meaning there are more young people than ever foregoing cars for bikes, walking and transit.

How to Support Future Projects on SF Business Corridors

Adding bike lanes to business corridors in San Francisco has already made a positive impact to local businesses. On Valencia Street, 66% of merchants say the bike lanes have had a positive impact on their business. Other business corridors, including Market Street, Polk Street, the Embarcadero and more, are scheduled for bicycle improvement projects. You can help move these projects forward by joining the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and supporting our work to get protected bikeways on the streets you bike and shop on every day.

Own or work for a company that wants to become more bike-friendly? Join the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition as a business member, sponsor an event, or get involved in one of our campaigns! Email Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, Business and Community Program Manager, at for more information.

Become a member and you'll improve your commute and get discounts at shops across the city.