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Valencia Street bike lane didn’t hurt businesses, report finds

An aerial view of a two-lane road lined with trees and parked cars, flanked by buildings on both sides, with road markings indicating "LANE FIRE," and "KEEP CLEAR."
The Valencia bike lane has been fought over between merchants, cyclists and the city for almost a year. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

Valencia Street’s controversial center-running bike lane did not harm businesses, as merchants claimed, a new report finds.

“While businesses along Valencia Street have clearly suffered more than in other parts of the city since the pandemic, the challenges facing the corridor pre-date the construction of the bike improvements, and there is no statistical basis for linking the two,” a City Controller’s Office report published Wednesday found. The report used the city’s taxable sales database to analyze the effect of the bike lane on businesses.

Merchants along the corridor have waged a war against the city’s transit agency over the bike lane for almost a year. The owner of Amado’s bar, David Quinby, even blamed the lane for closing his business, despite suffering a devastating basement flood some months prior.

“This finding does not mean that no business was adversely affected by the bike improvements,” the city report added. “It simply means that any negative impacts on individual businesses were offset by positive impacts on others, and there is no net effect on the corridor as a whole.”

A sign with hangs from a window of a bar that is closing its doors because of a controversial bike lane.
A sign in the window of the shuttered Amado’s bar and music venue blamed the Valencia Street bike lane for the bar’s closure. | Source: Gina Castro/The Standard

On June 14, the city announced the bike lane would be moved to a conventional side-running lane. Then merchants asked San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials to hold off on the work until next year, believing it would harm their businesses. The lane could be moved in weeks, officials said.

Then, a splinter group of merchants said implementing side-running bike lanes would be even more destructive than the status quo. Quinby is a member of the VAMANOS splinter group, according to its co-found, co-founder Kevin Ortiz.

Valencia Corridor Merchants Association said the report presents a limited view of impacts on businesses and that many of its members report a loss in business due to parking and access issues.

“This metric doesn’t capture the full impact on individual businesses,” the association said in a statement via a public relations firm. “For instance, it doesn’t distinguish between a local shop solely on Valencia and its sister locations elsewhere, potentially masking negative effects on our corridor.”

The association said additional factors like foot traffic, parking availability, and delivery logistics are also crucial for understanding how the bike lane impacts businesses.

Joe Burn can be reached at