The nation’s first Bike-Friendly Business Districts were launched Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in Long Beach, to encourage merchants and customers to benefit from choosing bikes, not cars, for short trips.
The Bike-Friendly Business Districts operate under the premise that businesses are looking for ways to reach and retain customers, and customers are looking for ways to shop, dine, and run errands as conveniently and pleasurably as possible.
“Bike-Friendly Business Districts are a win-win for the whole city,” Mayor Bob Foster said. “Bike-Friendly Business Districts encourage merchants to use bicycles for their deliveries and errands, and encourage residents to ride their bikes to shop and dine locally. They promote personal health for residents, and financial health for businesses as they attract more customers, and more sales.”
A grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is providing funding for merchant bicycles, other equipment and promotional events in Bixby Knolls, 4th Street/”Retro Row”, East Village Arts District and Cambodia Town (pending). Beginning Saturday, June 4, participating merchants in the Bike-Friendly Business Districts will offer weekly “Bike Saturday” discounts and incentives for patrons who bike to shop or dine at their businesses.
“Bicycling within our communities is indeed an integral part of local economic development,” said Councilwoman Rae Gabelich, who represents the 8th District. “Bicycling encourages us to shop and dine locally, minimizes traffic and parking issues, reduces pollution, is often faster, always cheaper, and certainly less of a hassle than driving, and is healthy and fun.”
“Long Beach’s Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts aim to increase bicycle and pedestrian trips, and will help local businesses thrive,” said Paul Simon, MD, MPH, Director of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “This helps increase physical activity while enhancing the livability of the neighborhood.”
Bike-Friendly Business Districts are funded through the LA County Department of Public Health’s RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness) initiative, which seeks to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce obesity in LA County. RENEW LA County is made possible by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative. Other RENEW bike projects include the Countywide Cycling Collaborative’s “Bike Wrangler,” working to collect abandoned and donated used bikes and provide them to residents who need them most for a primary means of transportation. Additionally, the upcoming County of Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan – which will add nearly 700 miles of new bikeways throughout the county – is helping to make the streets friendlier for bicyclists of all skill levels.
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