Cycling advocate (and former Grist contributor) Elly Blue thinks parking spaces are a waste of money. They could be, you know, actual businesses attracting customers and juicing up the local economy, after all.
Blue gives the perfect example: Portland’s Apex Bar. It has modest seating inside, but the real draw is its outdoor beer garden, with rows and rows of picnic tables for sipping a craft brew on a nice day. The beer garden was originally — wait for it — five parking spaces. FIVE. Now it draws throngs of vitamin D-craving hipsters and houses up to 63 bikes on its racks. (The boom in business also benefits the taqueria next door, which delivers orders to Apex customers.) What once was undoubtedly a frustrating parking lot is now one of the neighborhood’s busiest drinking spots on a sunny day.
Blue also cites hard numbers:
For each vehicle, bike parking takes up ten times less space than car parking and the cost is from 30 to 300 times less … A study in Melbourne, Australia found that bike parking brought in five times the revenue of car parking. A study in Toronto found that customers who biked and walked to local businesses spent more money overall than those who drove.
Not only is bike parking cheaper than car parking, it encourages healthier people, cleaner air, and safer roads. Color us convinced, Blue.
Get Grist in your inbox