New bike lane blamed for drop in business along popular SF Mission corridor

The owner of a small business on Valencia Street is blaming a new center bike lane for its demise and now other business owners in San Francisco’s Mission District are letting city leaders know they oppose the lane. 

Amado’s owner, Davis Quinby, claims sales dropped 80% since the bike lane was implemented. The actual impact of the bike lane on businesses has not been determined.

The changes to the bike lane stretch from 15th to 23rd Streets, affecting the popular corridor of small businesses on Valencia Street. 

“We’re down at least 30-40%,” said Eiad Eltawil, owner of Yasmin, a Mediterranean cafe. “There’s no parking. Nobody’s going to come to Valencia.”

Similarly, owner of Vietnamese restaurant Chic N’ Time Michael Ho said, “I lost about almost 20% of revenue cause of parking.”

They blame the new bike lanes installed over the summer. 

It’s the same reason Quinby said he had to close his music venue on the corner of 21st and Valencia.

Many business owners in the corridor have slapped signs on their windows, reading “This bike lane is killing small businesses and our vibrant community.” The signs were distributed by the San Francisco Small Businesses Coalition. Business owners like Eltawil and owner of Tunisian cuisine restaurant Gola Rafik Bouzidi said the signs have caused customers to angrily tear them down.

“It’s not that we don’t like bikers. We really love bicycles, but it’s just really killing our business,” said Eltawil. He said, commenting that the design of the bike lane itself isn’t effective.

The bike lane cost the street over 70 parking spaces and a few parklets, leaving mostly commercial loading zones or five minute parking spots.

“It’s a really big disadvantage,” Eltawil said, whose two parklets have been rezoned and replaced by a red striped line and a white striped line.

Critics said the lane is not any safer, mentioning the elderly man who was killed in September while walking in a crosswalk on the corner of 18th and Valencia, just after these changes came into effect.

“He got run over because the driver was confused on where to go,” said Eltawil.

Meanwhile, bikers have mixed reviews.

“I’m sure it interferes with parking spaces, but it is a city,” said Paula Maccello, who is in favor of the lane. “I totally appreciate this protected lane. As a cyclist, I feel much safer.”

“It’s really difficult to get on and off and like part of what I’ve always loved about Valencia and biking on it is being able to stop in and grab something and then get back on really easily,” said Geetika Agrawal, who was riding with her young daughter. “It is a little unnerving with cars on both sides and two-way bike traffic. I think it has an appearance of feeling really safe, but I actually found it tricky to navigate.”

A spokesperson from SFMTA said in a partial statement, “The SFMTA is committed to making Valencia Street a safe and inviting place for everyone, and that includes businesses, residents, those who drive in the area and those who walk, bike and roll… We want businesses on the Valencia corridor to thrive, and we want to do everything we can to support them.”

That is why the city made temporary adjustments to loading zones and side streets to create more general parking:

  • We turned just over a third (34%) of the loading zones that we recently installed into general parking after 12 noon.
  • We turned the vast majority (82%) of the new loading zones into general parking after 6 p.m. Previously they ended at 10 p.m.

The SFMTA spokesperson continued, “The reason there are fewer parking spaces on the street is because there’s more competition for curb space. Shared Spaces parklets, which have been a lifeline for struggling businesses, are taking up some of the curb space that was previously general parking. And some other parking spaces had to be turned into loading zones. Without the loading zones, delivery drivers double park, which creates a dangerous situation for drivers as well as for people on bikes when someone has to veer around a double-parked vehicle.”

MTA also operates two garages in the neighborhood to help alleviate street parking, located at 3255 21st St and 41 Hoff St. 

One business on Valencia, Valencia Cyclery, located at 22nd Street, has a sign in their window, pointing out that parking at the Mission Bartlett Garage is “Easy Parking” and accessible from 21st street. 

Sign in Valencia Cyclery’s window. Dec. 1, 2023. 

MTA staff will meet with the agency’s Board of Directors will meet in April 2024 to discuss how the pilot program for the bike lane is going, and make any permanent changes to the street.

Small business owners said they don’t think Amado’s will be the last to close. Quinby is hosting a march on Tuesday from the corridor to MTA headquarters to express their disapproval of the bike lane.

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