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Bikenomics: Bike Lanes on Main Street

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Magnolia Street in Fort Worth, Texas's newly hip Near Southside, is the sort of story that urban planners dream of.

In 2008, this retail, office, and apartment-lined street was re-striped. The street had been two lanes in each direction, both of which had been mainly used by cars, plus a few fast and fearless cyclists. In its new incarnation it still had four lanes, one in each direction for cars, and one for bicycles. "It was the first "road diet" of its kind in Fort Worth, and has been a genuine success," Kevin Buchanan, a local musician and author of the Fort Worthology blog, told me.

The best measure of this success was in the bottom line: After the road was rearranged, restaurant revenues along the street went up a combined total of 179%.

"Not to imply causality," Buchanan added, "but clearly removing car lanes and replacing them with bike lanes had no ill effects on businesses, and of course it can be argued that the safer, slower street and better cycling/walking environment helped business."

The effort to revitalize the street included adding lots of new parking. A 320 space car parking garage went up in the heart of the district; shortly afterward, bicycle parking staples were bolted into the concrete in front of every business, providing spaces for 160 bikes.

The total cost for the parking garage was over 5 million dollars. The total for buying and installing all the bicycle parking came to just over $12,000-less than the cost of a single space in the garage.         


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