From the National Bike Summit

March 18, 2013

Last week the BikeArlington team attended the National Bike Summit, including the second annual National Women's Bicycle Forum.  As a female who also rides a bike, I was especially interested in attending the "Women Mean Business" themed forum.  With such inspirational leaders in the bicycle world as Janette Sadik-Khan pegged to speak, I was all ears. 

So the purpose of the "Women Mean Business" theme was to underline the influence, both economically and culturally, that women can have on the bicycle movement.  Panelists ranged from the eclectic mountain bike racer Jacquie Phelan to owner of the women's specific bike shop PedalChic Robin Bylenga.  My colleague at Arlington Transportation Partners highlighted some of the takeaways of the women's bicycle forum including the little tidbit that women are more responsive to bicycle ads that are inspirational, rather than aggressive and competition-themed.  This means that if bike shops want women to come into their stores they should take down those carbon time-trial bikes from the window and replace them with more practical and functional city bikes. 

This sport vs. transportation bicycle debate was one of the most important takeaways I got from the talks regarding women, bikes and business...and it was definitely apparent throughout the forum.  Specifically one talk that I attended, a panelist kept reiterating that the problem is really in the lack of supply in comfortable, step-through frame bicycles in bike shops.  I would have to say that I whole heartedly agree with her.  No, I don't think that every woman wants a bike with a step-through frame, but some women do.  And in my mind, that should be enough for bike shop owners to carry them.  And if you carry it, they will come - in fact, women are estimated to have a $2.3 million direct effect on retail in the coming years so bike shop owners, make sure to stock up on some accessories while you're at it!

The Bike Summit continued on the business theme with the slogan "Bicycles Mean Business", focusing on the economic impact of bike riding.  What can be gleaned from this is, not surprisingly, that bicycles are good for business, period.  In fact, they're great for business.  Here are a few statistics that stuck out to me:

  • People on foot and on bike spend more per week and per month than people who drive
  • House values in Indianapolis increased by 11% every half mile closer to a trail they were located
  • For every dollar spent on bicycle infrastructure, 1.5 jobs are created
  • In NYC, retail sales increased more than 50% after the installation of a protected bike lane adjacent to shops
  • 83% of Capital Bikeshare members are more likely to patronize a business if there is a Capital Bikeshare station located nearby

The economic benefits of bicycles are nothing new, but the statistics come at a time when budgets are tight and when businesses are especially concerned about that competitive edge.  The bike summit proved, several times over, that the bicycle is this competitive edge.  Businesses need to start embracing this people powered movement and cater to it - but they won't do it without our help.  The bike summit armed us with the tools we need to get businesses on board.  If businesses are on board, we could potentially see a lot of changes happening soon.

Zanna is the Events and Outreach Coordinator for BikeArlington. She does the majority of her shopping by bike - even when she buys 43 pounds worth of groceries (and that's lbs, not GBP). True story.


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