“You know you’re in the right room when the Member of the Provincial Parliament is talking about getting dirty at the 24hrs of Adrenalin and His Worship the Mayor is talking about being at the Jump Jam”
Andy Clarke | @Andybikes
After 12 years as President of the League of American Bicyclists and his work with the Rails to Trail Conservancy, Andy Clarke should require little in way of an introduction to anyone who rides a bike. He now works for Toole Design Group, an international planning and design consulting firm, as Director of Strategy looking to the future of active communities and riding bikes. He’s biked the Pyrenees, the Alps, Italy, L’Etape du Tour, La Route Verte, Five Boro Bike Tour, Cape Argus Cycle Tour in South Africa, Sydney to Gong Ride in Australia, and the Tour de L’Ile in Montreal to name a few.
“Those are all just spectacular events to create a huge buzz around cycling and generate a huge amount of money for the economies. They’re really signature events and very powerful moments in communities lives.”
Statistics from around the globe are clearly illustrating the benefits of bikes:
- Looking at the costs/benefits for society alone, one kilometer by car costs EUR0.15, whereas society earns EUR0.16 on every kilometer cycled.
- Valencia Street, San Fancisco CA – 66% of merchants say bike lanes had an overall positive effect on business.
- New York City – Protected bicycle lanes led to; 49% increase in retail sales, 47% fewer commercial vacancies, and rents increased 71%.
- Chicago IL – 12 times more bikes than cars at Wicker Park coral.
- Portland OR – 107 car spots converted to create 1,140 bike parking spaces.
- East Village NYC Shoppers Study – Bicyclists and Pedestrians spent the most per capita per week ($163 and $158 respectively) whereas car drivers spent $143 per week.
- Indianapolis – Properties worth 11% more for every half mile closer to Monon Greenway Trail.
- $253 million in sales and $531.47 overnight visitor spending on Erie CanalwayTrail, New York State
- $60 Million And 1,407 Jobs from $6.7m Outer Banks improvements, North Carolina
- $33 Million from1.7m Orange County trail users, Florida
- $52 million in sales and 330 full-time jobs in Boulder, Colorado (100,000 pop)
- For every dollar spent, bike projects create 1.5x the jobs of road projects
- Iowa: $1 Million Per Day from Bicycling
- Michigan: $668 Million Per Year from Bicycling; $21.9 Million From Events
- Minnesota: $427 Million from Recreational Bicycling
- New Jersey: $497 Million from Active Transportation
- Washington: $3.1 Billion from Recreational Bicycling
- Wisconsin: $924 Million from Bicycle Tourism & Recreation
- $214 Per Day Spending on La Route Verte Network in Québec, 6% higher than other tourists
- Europe: EUR 44 Billion PerYear from bicycle tourism incl. 20 Million overnight tourists generating EUR 9 Fillion
- Overall economic value of bicycling in Europe is EUR 217 Billion
“As U.S. bicycle riders we are an affluent, smart bunch of people, who spend far too much of our disposable income on bikes, and bicycling, and bike stuff.”
Looking at U.S. bike tour riders, 52% earn $100,000 per year or more and 10% earn $200,000 or more. 24% of riders have 4 or more bikes and a 3rd of them bought a bike in the past year.
“You have to wonder with all that evidence, why do we still not promote cycling and walking and take advantage of all that economic benefit. And why are we not building streets that are more complete.”
All About Advocacy
Andy is clear about the need for the right type of advocacy. Advocates often don’t paint an aspirational vision of riding a bike. Think about the image you want to create and whether it is sending a good or bad message.
“You have some very well meaning but out of touch and arrogant people who come in and turn people off.”
When thinking of bike advocacy – messaging and how you deliver a message is important:
- It matters what you say and how you say it. It can’t be about critical mass and kicking ass. It has to be about multimodal, progressive, transportation options.
- Recognize what you want your community to look like. Only 1% of cyclists are strong and fearless and only 9% are enthusiastic and confident. For concerned or less confident people to ride bikes, facilities must be built accordingly.
- There’s no part of transportation that’s a separate conversation. Don’t only talk about bikes. All types of transportation need to be considered from cars to buses to bikes and walking.
- Know that when someone who is not already a supporter of bicycling hears how cycling is going to save the world, they simply won’t believe it.
- It is equally important who delivers the messaging. Advocates aren’t always viewed credible.
- Be data driven. Use and pursue performance measures.
- Be inclusive. Mountain bikes, road bikes, cruisers, young, and old.