The bike lanes pilot project on Bloor Street West is causing revenues to drop for some businesses on the street, merchants say.
Last summer when the bike lanes were put in, business at his bookstore near Manning Avenue immediately dropped due to lack of parking in front of the store, Doug Miller said.
Shoppers are in a hurry, Miller said. If they can pull in, they will run in to purchase something and then run back to their car and drive away.
“Unfortunately that’s not the case now,” Miller said. Now they have to park behind the stores or on the side streets, but if they are in a hurry, they are not going to do it, he said. “They will go somewhere else.”
It’s hard to get customers in the peak hours, said Abdul Saleh, who has had a pizza shop close to Spadina Road for the past 20 years. He said he has lost 50 per cent of his business.
“The rent is too expensive and I can’t pay it any more more, so I’ll have to close down the business,” Saleh said.
“We are down by 45 per cent,” Miller said, “It has made a huge difference the way we run things.”
Peter Song, who operates a small Korean restaurant close to the Christie subway station, said he has lost up to 40 per cent of his business since the bike lanes opened.
Business owners have a hard time with deliveries and they get heavy tickets if they park in front of their stores, he said. Everyday they park in residential streets and carry the heavy boxes from blocks away, he added.
Song suggests the bike lanes be closed in winter.
“We got to compromise with these bike lanes, it would help us because in the winter time it’s worse,” Song said. “There are no bikes [then] and it’s all blocked.”
Miller said he has made changes to his store compared to the year before. He has cut down his Internet and phone services. He said he is very careful in buying books from people now and buys only the books that he can sell back.
“Often I have to borrow money to pay my rent now, where I have never had to do that before,” Miller said.
Toronto Centre for Active Transportation is conducting an economic impact study of the area with the help of Bloor Annex BIA, Korea Town BIA, Metcalf Foundation and Economic Development and Transportation Services to find the effects of bike lanes on business. The study will be done in the summer and is expected to be released in the fall.
City councillor Janet Davis said city council has not received any reports on the issues yet. She said it’s not possible to make the lanes seasonal.
“Until we get the evaluation back, which is coming back in September after one complete year, we really won’t have any clear findings,” Davis said.
The bike lanes were installed on 2.6-km area of Bloor Street in August last year from University Avenue to Shaw Street. The vote was 38–3 in favour of the bike lanes for the pilot project in the Toronto city council.
According to the city’s interim report on the area, of 150 local business representatives, opinions are split between support (53%) and opposition (41%) to the bike lanes from the online survey.