Could the City of Austin Do More to Promote Cycling?
I just came across a post from Grist, a Seattle-based environmental news site, about how Long Beach is usingbike-friendly shopping districts to boost their growing recognition as one of America’s most popular cities for biking.
By comparison, the City of Austin has helped install 4,500 bike racks, well surpassing Long Beach’s 1,200. There are also more bike trail and lane mileage in Austin, based on the Austin Bike Map, which covers 450 square miles.
But you don’t always think about the difference in amenities needed for bikes versus cars. Take the quote from April Economides in that piece (By the way, is that a great name for a business consultant or what?):
“The math is pretty simple,” says Economides, the principal strategist of Green Octopus Consulting and the leader of the city’s outreach to local businesses. “You can park 12 bikes in the amount of space it takes to park one car. And someone who shifts from owning a car to a bicycle tends to have more discretionary income, because, for a commuter, the typical cost of a bicycle is $300 a year, compared to $7,000 a year for a car.”
When businesses seek “working professionals who want to live a healthy, planet-friendly lifestyle” clientele, putting bike facilities outside their locations makes sense. Creating a safe and easy way for people to get from place to place car-free makes not only a positive environmental impact, but an good economic one, too.
The mayor of Long Beach, Bob Foster, who just happens to ride about a hundred times a week, is leading the charge:
“It’s easy to get around here, we encourage a car-light lifestyle, it’s still a great beach town, and there’s all these hip places to enjoy, too."
Take away the "beach town" aspect, and that place sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it?
So could Austin businesses look to the cycling community as a demographic for sales? I’ve known about bars and restaurants who serve as after-party locations for social bike rides, offering discounts if you show up with your wheels.
How much further would it need to be taken? Austin already has a cycling infrastructure. Could the situation be improved, both for cyclists and those who could view them as repeat customers?
Grist is a great site, with a full-scale economic impact series on cycling that is totally worth checking out. That can be found here, and by clicking on the topics in the gray rectangle on the right.