Advertisement
  1. Health

Bicycling can bring benefits to businesses and riders

Published Aug. 20, 2015

Are bicyclists good for business?

The Tampa Bay area, with its flat terrain and mild climate, is a haven for recreational cyclists, with many clubs and group rides that not only make riding safer but build social networks, whether at the coffee shop after a ride or online with Facebook pages that cater to different segments of the cycling community.

Yet challenges remain to make bike riding not just a recreational activity but a commuting alternative and a business generator.

The League of American Bicyclists, or LAB, has a program called Bicycle Friendly Business, also known as BFB, that encourages local businesses to adapt to the needs of their bike-commuting employees and customers who arrive on two wheels. At this moment, Tampa is ahead of St. Petersburg in developing a local program, but the two cities are sharing information as both look to develop programs based upon the best practices of other communities.

Fort Collins, Colo., is rated the No. 1 BFB city in the country, with nearly 40 LAB-certified bike-friendly businesses and plans to double that number this year. The city has lessons to impart.

Jeff Nosal, co-chairman of the Fort Collins BFB Peer Network, said BFBs become more than simply attractive destinations for cyclists. "Not only can they encourage their employees to bike to work by providing showers and other amenities, businesses can become partners advocating for better bike infrastructure," he said.

Bevin Barber-Campbell, Nosal's former co-chairwoman, emphasizes the need for a ground game that's labor intensive and includes such things as helping businesses complete BFB applications, encouraging mentoring among businesses and conducting workshops. "It was definitely a one-on-one approach, leveraging our connections to people," she wrote.

Karen Kress, director of transportation and planning for the Tampa Downtown Partnership, which leads a bicycle-friendly business initiative effort there called Bike-Friendly Tampa, echoes the need for a personal approach.

"The biggest challenge for small businesses is the lack of time," Kress said. "They are so busy, we've had to interrupt our workshops while a small businessman takes a call." So Kress has one person who beats the bushes looking for businesses to join the local Tampa program, which has a simpler application process than the LAB certification requires.

She has had success. Twenty-nine businesses have joined Bike-Friendly Tampa, mostly ground-level establishments in the downtown area. Phase 2 will target larger companies, and Phase 3 will look to recruit cultural organizations, all of which must be downtown. Businesses outside the downtown area can apply directly to LAB if they're interested.

Businesses in Tampa's program usually offer some benefit to bike riders in addition to convenient and safe bike parking. It may be a small discount or a free drink but it also includes repair services, patch kits and air pumps.

Benefits for employees include secure long-term parking and cleanup facilities.

It's sometimes a harder sell to convince businesses that catering to bicyclists can be profitable, especially if it means giving up even one parking space for cars, but the evidence is compelling.

A study by Oregon's Portland State University found that for restaurants, bars and convenience stores, for example, consumers who arrive by bicycle actually spend more per month at those businesses than motorists do.

Oregon also has found that there's more to being bicycle friendly than catering to the locals.

Thirty-one percent of visitors to the state rode a bike at some time during their stay and spent more than $1 million a day. Research also found that bike travelers spend 20 percent more than the typical visitor.

Such statistics should have St. Petersburg salivating. Its BFB program is in the development stages. Jessica Eilerman, the city's small-business liaison, is heading up the effort and learning from Tampa's first steps. She also is looking at other cities' programs and asking for input from various stakeholders. She believes the BFB program must be integrated with larger efforts, such as improving residents' health and a "Complete Streets" program with business arteries that calm motor traffic and encourage other forms of transportation, including walking. "We've got to move around the city in a lot of different ways," she said.

Bicyclists experience neighborhoods and street-level businesses differently than motorists, lingering at shop windows and reading signage that might offer special items or discounts, something motorists can't do easily.

Eventually, many businesses recognize the benefits. A survey in Portland found that 68 percent of businesses thought that "promoting bicycling and walking helps market their business."

Of course, each city is unique and must find what works best there, giving consideration to climate, street patterns, population, etc. But both St. Petersburg and Tampa are well positioned to emulate Fort Collins, which also claims to be the largest producer of craft beer in Colorado. Our region, of course, is proud of its burgeoning craft beer reputation. Jeff Nosal said the Fort Collins New Belgian Brewery is the "spiritual leader" of the BFB program there, offering meeting space for workshops and events for the cycling public with, of course, free beer.

Now if that idea doesn't attract the cyclists I know, you might as well roll up the sidewalks and turn out the lights.

Bob Griendling is president of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club and a member of the Mayor's Bicycling and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Contact him at bob@griendling.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Erik Maltais took an unconventional path to becoming CEO of Immertec, a virtual reality company aimed at training physicians remotely. He dropped out of school as a teenager, served in Iraq in the Marine Corps and eventually found his way to Tampa. OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES  |  Times
    Software from Immertec can bring physicians into an operating room thousands of miles away.
  2. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  3. Dr. Paul McRae was the first black chief of staff at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Dr. McRae died on September 13, 2019. He was photographed here in the Tampa Bay Times photo studio for the 2008 Dr. Carter G Woodson Museum's "Legends Honorees" gala. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Times
    ‘His extraordinary example paved the way for so many others.’
  4. Michael Jenkins spent seven days at North Tampa Behavioral Health last July. Since then, he says his three children have been afraid he’ll leave and not come home. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times
    The patients have no choice, and the hospital is making millions.
  5. Samantha Perez takes a call for someone in need of counseling at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay earlier this year. The center handles calls dealing with suicide, sexual assault, homelessness and other traumatic situations. They also do outreach and counseling, and operate Transcare, an ambulance service. JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Florida’s mental health care system saves lives.
  6. The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County identified a positive case of hepatitis A in a food service worker at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City on Oct. 22, 2018. [JOSH FIALLO | Times] JOSH FIALLO | TIMES  |  JOSH FIALLO | Times
    Slightly more than 200,000 people have been vaccinated this year — a huge jump from the 49,324 people vaccinated in all of 2018.
  7. FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2014, file photo, a patron exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York. Under the Trump administration, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb kicked off his tenure in 2017 with the goal of making cigarettes less addictive by drastically cutting nicotine levels. He also rebooted the agency’s effort to ban menthol flavoring in cigarettes. But those efforts have been largely eclipsed by the need to respond to an unexpected explosion in e-cigarette use by teens. AP
    Hundreds of people nationwide have come down with lung illness related to vaping.
  8. This May 2018, photo provided by Joseph Jenkins shows his son, Jay, in the emergency room of the Lexington Medical Center in Lexington, S.C. Jay Jenkins suffered acute respiratory failure and drifted into a coma, according to his medical records, after he says he vaped a product labeled as a smokable form of the cannabis extract CBD. Lab testing commissioned as part of an Associated Press investigation into CBD vapes showed the cartridge that Jenkins says he puffed contained a synthetic marijuana compound blamed for at least 11 deaths in Europe. JOSEPH JENKINS  |  AP
    The vapor that Jenkins inhaled didn’t relax him. After two puffs, he ended up in a coma.
  9. H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is the centerpiece of Project Arthur, an 800-acre corporate park that could include up 24 million square feet of office and industrial space on nearly 7,000 acres of what is now ranch land, but targeted for development in central Pasco. Times
    The H. Lee Moffitt facility is the centerpiece of an economic development effort in a proposed 800-acre corporate park.
  10. Taylor Bland-Ball, 22, posted this photo and open letter to Judge Thomas Palermo to her Instagram account on September 10, the day after she lost custody of her 4-year-old son Noah McAdams. The boy's parents wanted to treat his leukemia with natural health care remedies instead of chemotherapy. [Instagram] ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Instagram
    The couple refused chemotherapy for their son, instead seeking alternative treatments including dietary plans, alkaline water and THC and CBD oil treatments
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement