VACC pumps purchase power of cyclists with Businesses for Bikes program
If you ask Erin O’Melinn, cyclists don’t only have pedal power; they also have purchase power. And they know how to use it.
“Cyclists spend more than people think and their average income is way higher than people think,” O’Melinn, the program manager responsible for the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s Businesses for Bikes initiative, which launched today (September 28), told the Straight by phone.
According to O’Melinn, Businesses for Bikes is a membership-driven program which already has 62 founding members on day one.
One member, Ron van der Eerden of downtown-based Pacific Image Home Designs, is an outspoken cyclist who has long touted the benefits of increased cycling in the region, and particularly in the city centre.
“As cycling downtown becomes safer and more people take advantage of that choice, the liveability of the public realm improves,” Van der Eerden states in today’s VACC press release on Businesses for Bikes. “This draws more people to the core and invites them to stay longer. It’s good for business.”
O’Melinn said VACC surveyed more than 1,400 cyclists in Metro Vancouver who participated in Bike to Work Week and found around 50 percent of them earn $50,000 or more per year. Of those surveyed, about a quarter make $75,000 or over.
She said the program is not about being antagonistic toward the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, whose executive director, Charles Gauthier, was one of the main opponents of the Burrard Bridge lane-reallocation trial.
“I know that both the DVBIA and the Board of Trade have had their opinions voiced quite loudly, and we wanted to provide a balanced view and show that there are a number of businesses that are very supportive of cycling improvements and cycling in general,” O’Melinn added.
Later O’Melinn said, “The DVBIA are not the enemy by any means.”
In the coming months, Businesses for Bikes will distribute a Guide for Marketing to Cyclists and kick off a Discover by Bike project, according to the VACC release.
For the past two months, the city has been accepting public input on a proposed separated bike lane on Hornby Street.