One of my pet peeves is the extent to which local businesses place more value on a potential customer that arrives by car that a dozen potential customers that arrive by bicycle.
We saw this when Ottawa attempted to set up a segregated bike lane, first on Somerset Street, and then finally on Laurier Avenue. Local merchants failed to see any benefit in the flood of cyclists that the bike lane would bring into their area, but they went berserk over the lost of a few dozen on street parking spaces.
Two years ago the owner of Saslove’s Meat Market went public claiming a bike corral that took up one parking spot was hurting his business. That’s right, the lost of one parking space was more important than a bike corral which could accommodate 12 bicycles.
In order to help businesses overcome their mental block when it comes to seeing cyclists as potential customers, Kitchissippi councillor Jeff Leiper established the “I Bike, I Buy” campaign. Basically, it is a website that attempts to track how much money cyclists are spending at local businesses. Initially, it was limited to his ward, but has recently been expanded to include three other wards, and has been given a technology upgrade involving apps and GPS tracking.
Kudos to Jeff Leiper for pushing ahead with his initiative.
(Come to think of it, last night I pedalled into Westboro and spent over $80.)