Mom-and-pop shops are often the easiest to identify the products that will serve them (which often have limited, fragile margins). So why the blind spot here? Maybe that’s what horror stories are all about – and others traders are drowned when the bike lanes come.
I spoke with Cindy Hughes, owner of Fast Phil hair salon in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He said business dropped by about 40 percent when the city removed the nearby parking lot and installed a bike lane. Most of his customers drive (observed), and many are from nearby towns. Few have made the switch to cycling, and even those who don’t can ride in the Boston winter. So while Hughes supports cycling – “cyclists should be safe” – he sees the loss of traffic as an existential threat. “Look, 90 percent of my customers drive,” he told me. “For our business, cycling is worse than Covid was.”
For others, a pushback is a culture, says Henry Grabar, a writer for Slate whose book Parking, Paradise Spread, will be released next May. Small business owners are often drivers who commute from other parts of the city by car, Grabar says. They are also often local. “They tend to be people with deep roots in the city, who have been around since before the neighborhood was what it is today,” he adds. Traveling around town in a car is so foreign to them that cycling seems strange and unusual – even more so from Covid, when sales of bicycles exploded by 75 percent.
And there is negativity bias. “People who have trouble finding parking are always talking about it,” Grabar says. But people who just walk in—or bike—will not talk about it.” So the store owners have created the concept of parking as an unsustainable problem, where the number of pedestrians or cyclists will not register.
Psychology inspires everything! Who knew, right? The bitter divide between store owners and bike lane advocates seems to be akin to one of our biggest cultural wars on climate change. If we’ve learned anything about culture wars, it’s that data isn’t good at changing minds.
When Janette Sadik-Khan was the director of New York City’s Department of Transportation in the early 2000s, she oversaw the rollout of bike lanes — and received backlash from business owners who angrily argued that there weren’t enough cyclists to accommodate them. roads. . Now, he finds it difficult, the roads are so busy that critics have turned to saying that the problem is different: There are too many cyclists passing cars. As he says, “the current situation is a drug.”
Maybe the bike lanes will always be crowded, until most people have reached the peak of climate change – and it seems like a no-brainer. no be with them.
Challenges, after all, have a way of opening people’s eyes to what is possible. During the Covid era, restaurants and bars lost so much business that cities across the country started allowing them to build sidewalks where people could sit, safely, outside. It greatly reduced the suspension – but because, well, difficulties, the shop owners didn’t see any way around it. Patrons loved outdoor seating so much that cities are making it permanent: A New York City survey of several streets closed during Covid found store owners are making more than ever, and diners are digging the al fresco lifestyle. If data doesn’t change minds, customers might.