A new report out of Victoria reflects the fact that cyclists and pedestrians actually DO SPEND MONEY, and therefore should be embraced by business. I have been saying this for a long time.
But the businesses on Hornby and Dunsmuir and Union Streets that got hysterical because they would lose a few parking spots to make cycling safer clearly did NOT get it.
But I am here to tell you that cyclists DO spend money. In fact, when we’re not on our bikes, we spend money exactly like regular people. Maggie and I even bought a Fiat 500 (reviewed here) and a Thule Helium bike rack (reviewed here) to transport our bikes! And let’s not forget that we cyclists tend to eat more, which requires us to spend even more than some non-cycling regular people!
Not to mention the small fortune many of us spend on our bikes, bike clothes, accessories, etc. (Here’s a post about the 5 Essential Cycling Accessories.) Some of us choose where we spend our vacation dollars based on how bike-friendly the destination is. (Here are posts about cycling in Montreal – we vacationed in Montreal to enjoy the Bixi bike system and the Lachine Canal bike path.)
It reminds me of this almost unbelievable story out of Arizona. As we know, the Arizona legislature recently saw fit to pass a law that allows businesses to discriminate against gay people. The law entitles service providers to use religious beliefs as a defense in a discrimination lawsuit. This could affect not only LGBT people but also, for example, single women or people of different religions.
Then just after that, Arizona legislators SUDDENLY REALIZED that gay people have money and buy stuff! (Yes, really.)
The realization that gays spend billions of dollars in Arizona each year AMAZED many legislators, such as Carol Foyler, a Tea Party Republican who supported the law. Foyler actually went on record saying that the startling bombshell that gays play a role in the state’s economy put her and her fellow lawmakers in a tight spot. She said:
“Quite frankly, we were blindsided by this. We had no idea that gays had money and bought things just like regular people do.” (Source: The Borowitz Report)
Yes, really. Somehow this woman has managed to live on Planet Earth without meeting any gay people at all (presumably she does not get out much), and so has failed to notice that gay people ARE in fact regular people, and consequently also buy food, homes, cars, clothes, bikes, etc. Anyway, she blamed her ignorance on the victims of her ignorance, stating:
“How was I supposed to know what gay people do with their money, etc., when I don’t personally know any gay people? I’m sorry, but it was up to the gays to tell us.”
Apparently, business people in Vancouver who opposed bike lanes did not know what cyclists do with their money – and could hardly be expected to know, as they don’t personally know any cyclists (presumably they do not get out much). However, they really SHOULD have known that there is no shortage of parking in downtown Vancouver – in fact, as I show in this post, there is an almost embarrassing over-abundance on parking in Vancouver (No Lack of Parking in Vancouver, so Why Are Businesses Complaining?). This makes it very hard to understand why on earth so many businesses would so staunchly oppose separate bike lanes (read about the benefits of separated bike lanes here).
Fortunately, the situation is being addressed by organizations such as HUB Vancouver, which do reach-outs to business (cyclists telling business what we do with our money, i.e., we spend it). Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson continues to lead the way to improve cycling infrastucture in Vancouver, as reported here (Visionary Mayor of Vancouver Fights for Safe Bike Routes). And this report out of Victoria will do a lot to educate, hopefully.
The Bikes Mean Business Report points out that a number of recent studies have highlighted the local economic benefits of active transportation (cycling and walking), including: higher property values, increased consumer activity and more cycling-related retail opportunities. The GVCC conducted transportation surveys of downtown businesses and consumers in the fall of 2013. They found that Victoria is falling sadly behind in terms of providing cycling infrastructure. The beautiful city has potential to be a great cycling city, but it has a long, long way to go. (Still, the longest journeys begin with a single spin of the pedals.) In the meantime, at least Victoria residents can head out on the Galloping Goose Trail, one of the greatest bike trails in the world.
The report also reviews the economic benefits of investments in cycling infrastructure, and reports on growing bicycle usage in other North American cities.
I wish Victoria a long and prosperous ride. And I hope that business people in Vancouver read the report …
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