Bikes & cookies

In a two-hour bike ride in the East Vil­lage and Low­er East Side last Sat­ur­day, I received a warm wel­come from busi­ness own­ers: free gra­nola bars, unlim­it­ed refills on cof­fees, home­made donuts, and cook­ies for snacks. The secret? I was rid­ing my bike in the new Bike-Friend­ly Busi­ness Dis­trict.

The Bike Friend­ly Busi­ness Dis­trict, which is a brain child of Trans­porta­tion Alter­na­tives (TA), is the first patch of the city orga­nized to provide spe­cial dis­counts for bike rid­ers. With the inau­gu­ra­tion of this ini­tia­tive on Sep­tem­ber 22nd, TA announced that 150 busi­ness, com­mu­ni­ty and cul­tur­al orga­ni­za­tions have agreed to offer 10 to 15 per­cent dis­counts and two-for-one pro­mo­tions for cus­tomers who arrive by bike with­in the dis­trict. So, don’t feel dis­ap­point­ed if you missed the free stuff on the launch day; get your bike out of stor­age and start putting it in action.

For those lucky bunch­es that did show up at the kick­off event, many of the cyclists believe that the bike-dis­count dis­trict is more than a sales attrac­tion; it’s an effort to pro­mote more bike-friend­ly neigh­bor­hoods in New York City. David Crane, chair of the trans­porta­tion com­mit­tee at CB3 in Man­hat­tan, told me that there are a lot cyclists in his dis­trict, but bike racks are in great short­age. Indeed, it took Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOT) three years to final­ly installed the first street rack for MudSpot Cof­fee Shop at 307 East 9th Street at his dis­trict.

Tony Rotel­la, who is the restau­rant man­ager at leg­endary East Vil­lage din­er Veselka (144 Sec­ond Ave), believes that bike racks will help busi­ness­es because the instal­la­tions provide con­ve­nient park­ing spaces for cyclists, and “peo­ple who bike are more like­ly to vis­it his restau­rant than those who dri­ve and can­not find car park­ing in Man­hat­tan.” On the Low­er East Side, Janelle, who is the own­er of Blue­stock­ings at 172 Allen Street, can per­haps provide the best tes­ti­mony: “Bike racks are filled in every morn­ing ever since the instal­la­tions on the week of Sep­tem­ber 17th.” Although the bike rack appli­ca­tion is a 9-mon­th-long process, “It makes sense to install them because most of the cus­tomers are bicy­clists.” In fact, even cus­tomers from the adja­cent yoga stores are receiv­ing ben­e­fits from the instal­la­tions, and their cus­tomers can now eas­i­ly find bike park­ing spaces.

I think the dis­trict is a good idea, but I may be biased since I took the cook­ies from the local busi­ness own­ers. So, I include the map of the Bike-Friend­ly Busi­ness Dis­trict in this arti­cle, and I would like to invite you to vis­it the dis­trict and chat with the busi­ness own­ers. Remem­ber, cook­ies from the Bird­bath bak­ery are very deli­cious.

And if you like this Dis­trict, help choose the next one, via the poll at Trans­porta­tion Alter­na­tives.

Click here for full map and all par­tic­i­pat­ing busi­ness­es.

Click here for the event video & click here for the event pho­tos


 map image: Trans­porta­tion Alter­na­tives