Do local and state officials tune out when you try to talk to them about bicycling? Are they unconvinced by arguments about public health, transportation options, or clean air? Do business leaders send you packing when you suggest building new bike lanes and bike parking, fearing that the loss of car parking will keep customers away?
Then show them the money.
Bikes can mean big business, and businesses are beginning to realize it. At a Bike Summit panel Wednesday on the economic boost cycling can provide cities, speakers highlighted another strong message cyclists can bring to politicians when making their case for investment in bike/ped facilities.
Far and away, the biggest reason business owners resist the addition of bike infrastructure is that they’re afraid it will limit parking. Once they realize they can get 12 bike parking spaces for each car spot, sometimes they begin to change their tune. Even better, they begin to discover that cyclists can be their best customers. “We tend to shop closer to home and shop more often,” said April Economides, a consultant who helped the city of Long Beach, California build bicycle-friendly business districts. Rather than jumping in the minivan and heading to the suburbs to go to the big shopping malls, cyclists patronize the businesses in our neighborhoods.