I love riding along streets lined with shops, restaurants, clubs and low-rise apartment buildings and tenements in the East Village and on the Lower East Side. The area’s bike-friendliness is revealed not only in the satisfying lattice of protected bicycle paths and bike lanes on NYC cycling maps, but also in the wide variety of businesses and cultural institutions that encourage cycling safety and reward those who use bikes for transportation with special deals and discounts.
So it was a joy last Saturday afternoon to visit some of them on a tour hosted by Transportation Alternatives to celebrate the launch of NYC’s first bicycle friendly business district. It includes more than 150 businesses, cultural groups and community organizations in the East Village and on the Lower East Side. Among our stops: Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakery (above), which offers 15 percent off to customers who arrive by bicycle. (Saturday’s samples were free!)
North America’s first bicycle friendly business district debuted in Long Beach, CA, and a handful of other cities have followed suit. Turns out that supporting two-wheeled transportation is a win-win proposition for both cyclists and businesses. Streets that prioritize biking and walking and include safety improvements like bike lanes and pedestrian plazas have been proven to boost retail sales by 10 to 25 percent, according to Transportation Alternatives.