Businesspeople in Belfast, North Ireland, are testing a program to encourage cyclists to shop in their area.
With financial support from the EU and the U.K.-based cycling advocacy/support group Sustrans (Sustainable Transportation), businesses in the East Belfast area are joining Pedal Perks, a cyclist loyalty scheme that offers discounts and loyalty rewards to those who arrive on bicycles.
In return, the businesses will have their products and services promoted to the 10,000 cyclists who work near or use the cycleways in the area. Those signing on include health food stores, drug stores, cafes and eateries. Read the Sustrans article here. (And go to the website of the European Cyclists' Federation for other innovative cycling information.)
I latched on to the quote from Sustrans active-travel officer Pamela Grove-White: "People, not cars, spend money."
Yes, so the goal would be to get more people to your business. If there is one parking space in front of your cafe, you may be getting one customer. What if you converted that one parking space to bicycle parking? Cited by the Sustrans article was a University of Birmingham study that said bicycle parking space generates five times more consumer spending per square metre than does automobile parking space.
Try that notion out on Waterloo Region retail businesses, where the hackles often go up at the suggestion of losing a street-side parking space, and few seem to think about bicycle parking.
So, maybe the bicycle parking is a hard sell. But a Pedal Perks loyalty card? Sure, why wouldn't that work? Throw in a bike rack so that cycling consumers feel welcome, and see what happens.