Bikes bring business. Communities around the U.S. are finding that when they welcome people on bikes, dollars follow. People who shop by bike spend more over time than people who drive. Retail shops often see boosts in sales after protected bike lanes go in nearby. And brand-name firms like Google and Amazon are competing for talent by providing first-class bike commuting amenities and working with cities to build better bike lanes.
But even small businesses without the deep pockets of a tech giant can take a few simple steps toward bike-friendliness. Here are three low-cost, low-time-commitment changes that can earn your business valuable attention and loyalty from customers who come by bike.
Bike parking is a high-visibility way to signal that your business makes it easy for people to visit by bike. Twelve bikes can fit in the same space as a single parking spot, so dedicating even a small area on a sidewalk or street can bring more potential customers your way. Pittsburgh invites businesses to request free bike racks. Many communities offer the same. Your local bike advocacy organization may be able to help your business navigate your city’s bike parking program.
Keep a bike tire pump and a basic patch kit behind your counter for the asking. (This local group will set up small businesses with a kit and pump.) Back up your patch kit by knowing the nearest local bike shops to direct folks to for more complex repairs.
Provide biking directions to your business on your website. And remember that a straight line is not always the shortest distance between a customer and your business: people are willing to ride out of their way on calmer streets that feel safer than busy ones. Local bike maps don’t always highlight the best routes, so enlist the help of a savvy local bike customer to chart a safe and easy path to your front door.
Finally, be sure to let your community’s bike advocacy organization know what you’re doing: they can help you brag about it, and they may have free promotional materials you can use. Ready for a bigger commitment? Advocate for better bike infrastructure in your neighborhood and keep looking for new ways to engage with people in your community who bike. It may just build your bottom line.
Kimberly Kinchen is the PeopleForBikes business network writer. You can find more of her work here.
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