Business Has Nothing to Fear From Bike Lanes

florent080506_1_250.jpgFlorent Morellet. Photo: Kevin Cooley/New York Magazine
As City Council Member Alan Gerson attempts to codify opposition to livable streets improvements, Lower Manhattan restaurateur Florent Morellet (a.k.a. the "Unofficial Mayor of the Meatpacking District") has filed a refreshing op-ed in The Villager, touting the commercial benefits of cyclist and pedestrian infrastructure. 

Our excerpt offers a taste, but this myth-busting column deserves a full read.

Regarding loss of business due to loss of vehicular traffic, I have a couple of points to make:

First, every study seems to show the same very low number of actual customers driving in and around the city, under 20 percent. The more on-street parking, the more traffic generated by cars searching for spaces, reaching close to 40 percent of traffic in Soho on some days.

Second, the latest loss of business in Little Italy has to be taken with a grain of salt; there is not one friend of mine who has not seen his restaurant business drop dramatically as of late. With the greatest collapse of Wall St. ever, I don’t think it is fair to blame business loss on the little [Grand Street] bike lane that could.

Furthermore, my former restaurant — Florent, on Gansevoort St. — did very well when people could park. It did better when people couldn’t park. And when traffic came to a standstill because of the nightlife, it was packed.

New York is not so different from London, Paris and other cities. If you make it attractive to people — i.e. pedestrians — they will find their way and come en masse. Businesses will flourish.