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Creating Bike Friendly Business Districts

Creating Bike Friendly Business Districts

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Published by Mary Lauran C Hall
Working with business districts unlocks a world of possibilities for bicycle advocacy. Instituting a bicycle friendly business district program can encourage more people to shop and dine locally, nurture business champions for bicycle improvements at the city level, and lead to infrastructure improvements like bike lanes and better bike parking. On this call, experts in the field discussed how to institute these programs.
Working with business districts unlocks a world of possibilities for bicycle advocacy. Instituting a bicycle friendly business district program can encourage more people to shop and dine locally, nurture business champions for bicycle improvements at the city level, and lead to infrastructure improvements like bike lanes and better bike parking. On this call, experts in the field discussed how to institute these programs.

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Published by: Mary Lauran C Hall on Sep 03, 2013
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Creating Bike Friendly Business Districts
Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid CallWednesday, August 28, 2013
1
Working with business districts unlocks a world o possibilities or bicycle advocacy. Instituting a bicycleriendly business district program can encourage more people to shop and dine locally, nurture businesschampions or bicycle improvements at the city level, and lead to inrastructure improvements like bike lanesand better bike parking. On this call, experts in the eld discussed how to institute these programs.
Advice from April EconomidesBusiness Services Associate,Alta Planning & Design
Prioritize Stakeholder Engagement.
•
Stakeholder engagement is the least tangible but most important part o planning a bike riendly business district.
•
It’s important not to go into a business district with a xed list o actionitems. Listen beore you talk.
•
ake time to nd out what local business owners’ goals are rst.alk about what to do aer you take the time to listen.
Talk about what todo after you takethe time to listen.
About Bike Friendly Business Districts (BFBDs)
•
Bike riendly business districts are places where people are encouraged to bike instead o drive, and where merchants themselves bike, too.
•
April has worked with advocates and business districts in Long Beach, San Diego, New York City, Ontario and Niagara to organize bike riendly business districts.
•
In a bike riendly business district, sae inrastructure is the most important element togetting people on bikes. When the city wants to install bike inrastructure, support rombusinesses can be a big help.
•
Education, encouragement and marketing are also important in BFBDs. Consider orga-nizing community bike rides, ree bike valets and inormal bike share programs.
New York’s Bike Friendly Business Program
•
ransportation Alternatives launched a bike riendly business program in 2010, and theprogram now has over 450 participating businesses. Te program includes all types o businesses, rom nail salons to book stores to auto body shops.
•
Businesses can become a BFB i they oer discounts to customers to arrive by bike, by requesting bike parking or sponsoring bike lanes, and by hosting ransportation Alter-natives’ bike ambassadors. In return, businesses receive ree publicity rom ransporta-tion Alternatives, including bike rides that direct people to those businesses.
Advice from Miller NuttleCampaigns and Organizing Manager,Transportation Alternatives
 
Creating Bike Friendly Business Districts
Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid CallWednesday, August 28, 2013
2
Walking to and fromschool is an overall “addto a child’s health.
Creating a BFBD
•
Creating a Bike Friendly Business District was a natural next step. A advocates decidedto ocus on the Lower East Side o Manhattan to buildconcentrated support among businesses and supportneighborhood bike improvements.
•
Te Lower East Side BFBD launched last year in part-nership with a nonprot arts group and 100 businessesrom the bike riendly businesses program.
•
Te neighborhood had a lot o bike trac already, but since businesses added incentivesor biking, the neighborhood has become even more o a destination or bicyclists. In arecent survey, 24% o respondents reported relying on bikes as their usual transporta-tion.
•
o kick o the program, ransportation Alternatives advocates pounded the pavement.Interns and sta members visited nearly every single business in the district and hadone-on-one conversations.
•
Advocates ound supportive business people and worked with them over several monthsto educate others on the benets o the program.
•
It’s important to listen to the community beore pushing an agenda.
•
Organize programs to enliven the bicycling community and encourage visits to shops:
•
A organized rides and tasting tours where up to 50 people could pedal through theneighborhood and sample dierent business’ are. Local businesses won new cus-tomers and ride participants got ree ood.
•
Bike ambassadors also oer date nights in the BFBD. Working with local restaurantsand theaters, advocates give out discounts or dinner and a show.
•
Advocates oer bike valet programs during events in the neighborhood to encouragetravel by bike.
Choosing a Neighborhood
•
Focus on an area with an existing network o bike inrastructure. Te Lower East Sidewas a strong choice in part because the East Village eatures the nation’s longest pro-tected bike lane.
•
Find a neighborhood where biking can be a bridge. Te LES is relatively ar rom publictransportation options, so making biking more appealing made the neighborhood moreaccessible.
•
Utilize existing partnerships with local community organizations, and orm strong rela-tionships with new community groups.
 
Creating Bike Friendly Business Districts
Alliance for Biking & Walking Mutual Aid CallWednesday, August 28, 2013
3
Partners can help youreach people you wouldnot ordinarily be able toreach.
Form Partnerships
•
ake lots o time to reach out to potential partners. ransportation Alternatives ormeda mutually benecial relationship with the Lower East Side Ecology Center, which runs asustainable small business program. Te Ecology Center incorporated A’s BFBD crite-ria into their program.
•
A also worked with Fourth Arts Block, a coalition o theaters, galleries and art institutions. Tis partnershipopened the door to new partners that A advocateswould not have been able to engage. Local arts institu-tions now give out bike lights and inormation, openingmore doors that A would not have been able to access alone.
•
A also collaborated with Local Spokes, a coalition o neighborhood-based organiza-tions rom the LES and Chinatown. Local Spokes listened to community input andound a strong need or more bike parking. Businesses submitted dozens o requests orbike parking, and the neighborhood now has some o the best bike parking in the city.
Draw Press and Decision-Makers
•
Engage local elected ocials. Bike Friendly Business Districts are a big win with electedocials — engaging with the program gives politicians an opportunity to show supportor small businesses, or economic development and or saer streets.
•
Bike Friendly Business Districts are also a great press hook. Te program gave reportersa lot o ways to look at bike riendly arguments. New York reporters seemed to especially love stories about local discounts or cyclists.
Know your Numbers
•
Research your district. Having good research in hand helps convert more reticent nay-sayers and show that their customer base is made up o people who walk and bike.
•
A’s East Village Shoppers Study ound that 95% o people arrived to the LES by bike,oot, or public transit. 24% o survey respondents said they rely on bikes or their daily transportation.
•
A study also ound that bicyclists spend the most per capita and visit the district mostoen.
Looking Ahead
 
•
Te BFBD program changed the conversation about bike riding in New York City. Aslittle as two years ago, there was a common narrative that bike lanes were horrible orbusinesses because they created problems or loading and unloading. Tis program re-inorces a dierent narrative — that businesses love saer streets, bike inrastructure, andpedestrian plazas.
•
ransportation Alternatives hopes to launch Bike Friendly Business Districts throughoutthe city. Teir second district will be with the Atlantic Avenue Business ImprovementDistrict in Brooklyn.

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