Boulder, CO— Bikes Belong’s Green Lane Project announced $125,000 in grants today to be awarded in five of their project focus cities – Austin, Texas, Chicago, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, and Washington, DC. A local non-profit in each city will receive $25,000 to build the case for how green lanes in their community benefit local businesses.
Green lanes, also called protected bike lanes or cycletracks, are dedicated, inviting spaces for people on bikes in the roadway, protected from cars and separated from sidewalks. The lanes make riding a bike a more comfortable and attractive option for people of all ages, especially for short trips around town.
Although all of the cities have impressive goals for expanding bicycling through building these innovative facilities, support from the business community is crucial in moving complicated projects forward. Many business leaders already understand the benefits that biking can offer them; however, others are apprehensive when projects remove car parking spaces or travel lanes. These grants will help cities better understand and address business community concerns and recruit business voices as supporters.
Local efforts will include grassroots engagement with businesses located on key corridors, as well as identification and cultivation of respected business leaders who can help guide public opinion.
“We have clear examples in our city that growing the number of people riding bikes benefits businesses. Better bicycling facilities draw new visitors to explore commercial corridors on two wheels and help professionals get to work more easily and enjoyably,” said Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycling Coalition, one of the organizations receiving a $25,000 grant on behalf of their city. “As more business leaders recognize these benefits, they too can be champions for great bikeways in their own communities.”
Studies have shown that people arriving by bike spend as much, or in some cases more, at local shops and restaurants than those who arrive by car. In New York City, retail sales increased 49% on 9th Avenue after green lanes were installed, compared to 3% growth in the rest of Manhattan. Savvy cities are also learning that the best and brightest young professionals, key for growing businesses, are attracted to more livable cities. “It’s part of my effort to recruit entrepreneurs and start-up businesses because a lot of those employees like to bike to work,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, of his promise to build 100 miles of protected bike lanes in four years.
These grants are supported, in part, by REI, the national outdoor gear and apparel retailer. Grant recipients will engage with their local REI stores in developing their projects, including a clear plan for measuring the grants’ success.
Details on each of the $25,000 grants:
Austin, TX, Movability Austin
Movability Austin will use their grant to conduct research examining how downtown businesses view bicycling as a mode of transportation, their barriers to supporting bicycling and what factors they care about during design and construction of bicycle facilities. Utilizing the results, the organization will work with a project advisory team made up of local leaders to address business concerns and forge strategies on how to partner with the business community on bicycling issues.
Chicago, IL,Active Transportation Alliance
The Green Lane Project grant will be used to bolster the newly-launched Bike Friendly Business program, which seeks to build support for bicycling and green lanes among businesses and to develop new partnerships with business owners and managers. In addition to promoting the business community’s support for bicycling, the Active Transportation Alliance will recruit business champions to take a more visible role by signing and posting petitions, writing letters to the editor and connecting with other businesses around this issue. The local REI will serve as a model Bike Friendly Business and help with workshops and other business programming.
Portland, OR,Bicycle Transportation Alliance
As part of a citywide goal to boost bicycling mode share to 25%, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is working to build strong business support for two new routes: a north/south connection through downtown and bridgehead improvements that will link the new routes to the existing network. The BTA team will connect with business owners to understand and address their concerns and priorities and to share how better bicycle facilities can benefit their bottom line. Longtime partner REI will help with communications, events and meeting space.
San Francisco, CA,San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) is partnering with contacts at City Hall, in city agencies and among business leaders to build the case for how bicycling benefits the many businesses in San Francisco. Engaging at both the grassroots level with businesses located on proposed green lane corridors and the grass-tops level with influential business leaders, this effort will reach a key constituency that will ultimately affect decision makers as well as the general public. SFBC will work with REI to spread the word about green lanes and involve them in outreach events and initiatives.
Washington, DC,Washington Area Bicyclist Association
Focusing on the city transportation department’s new “We Move DC” campaign to create a multi-modal transportation plan, WABA is expanding outreach to businesses to boost their support for the bicycle network component. The organization has identified real estate professionals, retailers and commercial drivers, as well as underserved communities, as the constituencies that can most benefit from better bicycling and a concentrated engagement effort. WABA will include REI in retailer-focused events and tours.
About the Green Lane Project
The Green Lane Project is a program created by the Bikes Belong Foundation to catalyze the creation of world-class bicycling facilities in the U.S. and build national momentum for green lanes. Green lanes are dedicated, inviting spaces for people on bikes, protected from cars and separated from sidewalks. The Green Lane Project is currently focused on six U.S. cities: Austin, Texas, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, and Washington, DC. For more information about the Green Lane Project, visit: www.greenlaneproject.org.
The Bikes Belong Foundation focuses on improving bicycle safety and enhancing children’s bike programs. It is also host to PeopleForBikes.org, working to unite a million Americans behind a pledge in support of better, safer bicycling. The Foundation is the 501(c) 3 arm of the Bikes Belong Coalition – the U.S. bicycle industry organization dedicated to getting more people riding bikes more often.
REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.