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.
map image: Transportation Alternatives