When businesses work together to make their neighborhoods bicycle-friendly, they can see results in weeks or months, April Economides told the “Bike-friendly is Good Business” session sponsored by Green Mobility Network. “A bike-friendly business district is not infrastructure,” Economides said. “Safe bike infrastructure is crucial, but done separately. [Bicycle-friendly business districts] are do-it-yourself urbanism programs that business districts can build into their operations, events, and promotions, often quickly and at very low cost.”
She described her work in Long Beach, Calif., where she helped four commercial neighborhoods make their streets and individual shops more congenial to customers who don’t drive. The rationale was the already strong link between cycling and the “shop-local” movement.
Shop owners found places to install bike racks near their doors. A grant provided delivery bikes, cargo bikes, and trailers to the four districts, and participating shops use them for deliveries and for employees’ errands. The bikes are prominently parked outside by day. More than 160 Long Beach shops now give Saturday discounts to cyclists. Bicycling was integrated into existing neighborhood events via free bike repairs, bike valet, and community rides.
Economides emphasized the speed with which change could be accomplished through Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) or merchants’ associations. “It is so fast,” she said, a contrast to what’s required to gain municipal approval for street signs or other infrastructure.
The City of North Miami, where Mayor Andre Pierre has emphasized bicycling over the past couple of years, helped Green Mobility Network pay for the program. We appreciate that, as well as the hospitality of the Miami Downtown Development Authority, where the meeting was held on July 27.
To learn more about our speaker and her work, there’s a one-page flyer attached below that you can download. There’s additional information at www.greenoctopus.net.