Many cities and towns across the United States have been adding bike lanes to their streets as a way to accommodate bicyclists in their communities and encourage an eco-friendlier mode of transportation.
Despite the numerous known benefits of cyclist-friendly communities, local business owners don’t always embrace having bike lanes outside their business.
In Newark, New Jersey, several small-business owners are upset over a $5 million streetscape plan that includes adding bike lanes on a few main thoroughfares and business districts. While critics of the plan call the designs aesthetically pleasing, they claim local businesses will lose 20 to 40 percent of their parking spaces due to the redesign.
It will also be difficult for the city to maintain the streets due to the new bike lanes, because street sweepers and garbage trucks will have a harder time accessing and cleaning along the curb, critics add.
About 20 local business owners aired their concerns about the street renovation plans at a recent meeting. “There’re a lot of logistical challenges the city has that I don’t think they are ready to provide,’’ Anibal Ramos, the businesses’ local councilman, told the Newark Star-Ledger.
Newark surely isn’t the first city where bike lanes have stirred controversy among business owners. In Rome, Georgia, several business owners voiced concerns recently over a proposal to add a bike lane along the city’s busy thoroughfare, Broad Street. The plan would cut through-traffic down to one lane each direction, and business owners worry that could make it difficult for trucks to make deliveries and would affect parking spaces for customers.
Though bike lane proposals often concern local businesses, advocates of bike lanes and cycling-friendly communities point to many benefits. In Omaha, Nebraska, some businesses offer discounts to customers who pull up on a bike.
In Denver, a business organization called Downtown Denver Partnership has launched a crowdfunding campaign to add a bike lane to a local street and is soliciting donations from local business owners who like the idea of providing their customers and employees with bike-friendly streets.
“We wanted to find innovative ways for businesses to show their support,” Aylene McCallum, the organization’s senior manager for transportation and research, told Next City.
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