Encourage Local Business to Support Bikers

The Hour (Norwalk), my local paper, published my letter on business support for local bikes. If you don’t feel like clicking, here’s the text:

To the Editor

Cycle commuting is starting to take hold in Norwalk and elsewhere. E. Norwalk’s recently installed bike rack handles the parking needs of about 6 commuters each day. As we increase bicycle friendliness, we should augment commuting with using the bike for local trips. Bikes can’t substitute for all errand runs, but swapping out one or more car trips a week can be beneficial. In a bit of irony, I cycled over to the local auto parts store for some things, and on another day I went over to Walgreen’s for sundries. Timewise, it took about as long as a car trip, but it was far more pleasant. But our ability to shop by bike is limited due to a shortage of bike racks at retail and office sites.

Local businesses should support, attract and accommodate cyclists, and view them as customers whose visits can ring the register in these difficult economic times. After all, when people spend less on gas more money is available for other purchases. A handful of local stores in Norwalk, like Stew Leonard’s, understand the value of bike racks for meeting customer needs and their abilities to create preference among customers. As Norwalkers, tell businesses where you would like a rack installed. And Norwalk businesses, ask your customers if they would like the cycling option.

Bike Racks as Transportation Network and Spur for Economic Development

In a letter I wrote to The Hour thanking the political powers for their bike rack support, it struck me that you can think of bike racks in an area forming a transportation network. In my area, the train stations are mostly located in or near town centers. In my case, riding to the S. Norwalk station takes me into SONO, a thriving retail, office and restaurant center. Westport to the east, Darien to the west, New Canaan to the Northwest, for examples, are all vibrant interesting towns, short rides away and reachable via secondary roads for good stretches. Promoting rack-to-rack trips seems like a way to encourage people to use their bikes to visit, keep appointments, shop or grab a bite, with the benefit of juicing the local economy a bit. If government and merchants catch on their efforts could give some welcome support for utility cycling.