Whenever I tell people I live in Lakewood, one of the first things they say is, “Oh I love that town! They have so many little shops!” or “Oh they have such nice little events!”
Yes, they do have great events, such as on May 19! (Remember to register at BikeforBeck.org! Support and a more bike-friendly Lakewood!)
But back to my first point...Lakewood would be nothing without it's small businesses. They're a major part of what makes Lakewood a great, unique place to live.
I just love strolling down Detroit and Madison on a warm sunny weekend, checking out a few of my favorite local spots. Yes, on the weekends I stroll. Because, let's face it, I'm slightly terrified to add my bike to the mix when the entire town is out and about, getting errands and chores out of the way, more focused on how they are going to survive the terror of the parking lot than who could be on the road.
But it won't always be this way! Through the efforts of both the city and Bike Lakewood, we are well on our way to becoming recognized as a bike-friendly community by 2015. And this doesn't just mean good news for cyclists, but for local businesses as well. Towns like Portland and Long Beach have already established Bike-Friendly Business Districts and found that for local businesses, this has meant more customers.
There are already many businesses taking advantage of the plentiful cycling population. For example, on Madison offers $2 off burgers every Monday for those bike there. Offering discounts to cyclists on designated days or nights is just one way for your business to not only attract customers, but support bikeability at the same time. As more bike-friendly initiatives are rolled out, such as setting up bike racks, the more cyclists you can expect coming into town. This means more customers for your business.
The support of bikeability by small businesses is crucial to Lakewood's eventual success as a bike-friendly community. And showing your support doesn't mean having to spend a lot. While discounts are great, I know I'm a big fan of a discount, you can also consider keeping loaner locks and bike repair kits in your back room. If a cyclist is in need of a patch and you're there to help them out, that's not something they'll soon forget. They'll spread the word on your kind deed and your business.
You can also get involved by sponsoring a bike event or local cycling team. You could even offer valet bike parking, especially if your business or restaurant doesn't have a bike rack nearby. Yes, this sounds weird, but I've seen it done, and it's actually pretty cool. And trust me, these simple gestures can mean a lot to a cyclist. And remember, bikeability doesn't stop with your customer. Businesses can also offer incentives for employees who cycle to work.
At the end of the day, a bike-friendly Lakewood is just a smart idea. It's good for the cyclists, it's good for the environment, and it's good for small businesses.