are bike enabled people a boon to local commerce?.

Bristol has a 20 mile an hour scheme in the pipeline, it’s a contentious issue, and a hi visibility scheme. It has big implications politically and locally. It could cause a lot of friction, cause a divide if it is not effective or implemented correctly. With this in mind i saw a  picture from Marc at Amsterdamize and it set me thinking.

Economics and money is generally regarded as the great motivator for change, people generally have to adapt to this change through lack of options. Social change for the good of society is much harder to influence and to quantify. So the financial implications of such schemes are often the prime/only incentiviser within large organisations

Personally i would like to live where the easiest option for local transport is the bicycle or my feet,  that’s good for me and those around me. I would also prefer to shop locally, helping my local economy financially, benefiting from the sense of community; probably a better diet and certainly less exposure to TV hyped generic pap.

To enable that to happen the people (that’s us) need to be enabled, just as someone with mobility issues needs to know that when they set out on a journey they have a car parking space waiting for them at their destination with room to open the door, get into their wheelchair and then actually be able to get into the shop, It is my opinion that in order for bike useage to become commonplace the bike user has to be similarly enabled.

The car is in such huge use now it has become the easiest way to travel. If you do not have a car it can be difficult to get about, people in cars have been enabled to the detriment of other forms of transport, railways, bus routes, cycle routes and pedestrians all suffer from this overpowering high spend anti-local legacy.

The facts are clear, just ask the person next to you,

If you have a bike but no safe route to travel along, will you use a bike…?.

If there is no clearly marked, safe and available cycle storage racks at the shops, station or airport will you use the bike for that trip?.

Without bike users being enabled there will never be the increase in bike usage that Cycle England for one, are looking for. Without making destinations safe to get to and safe to store your bike at, there will never be a huge change in people using bikes for local transport.

If there were figures that could prove that schemes that positively enabled pedestrian and bike use actually increased people walking or using bikes and inturn increased revenues for local businesses. If  that were the case then that would be a good basis from which to begin to quantify the gain for the local area and a launch pad upon which to display the additional social and safety benefits contained in such an endeavour..

To re-instate the local community you need people to be enabled, with safe routes for walkers/bike users and good bike facilities at the destinations. Then people will shop local, ride local, live local, they will begin to know local. implementation of  schemes in Bristol such as 20 is plenty will always be contencious and to give the idea momentum must be a difficult task, the financial aspect is a critical part of the jigsaw.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, saying that restricting cars to 20mph and advocating bikes usage will make people ‘happier’ is probably not going to put the proverbial lead in our governments pencil. It needs to be quantifiable and it needs to be practical. In order get people to use bikes (or their feet) more they need to be enabled.

Is it possible to prove that communities who are positively enabled for bike and foot will boost the local economy?

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