“I Bike SF” Campaign Encourages Shopping Locally by Bicycle

In honor of Bike Month this year, Mayor Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and local businesses have teamed up with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) to promote shopping by bicycle in various neighborhoods across the city. As part of the I Bike SF campaign, participating businesses in Hayes Valley are offering discounts throughout the month of May to cyclists who bring in their bicycle helmets or bike lock keys when they shop or eat out.

According to Mari Hunter, an intern who organized the campaign for the Mayor’s Climate Protection Initiative, I Bike SF is modeled on a national program called Bicycle Benefits.

"The idea simply is to encourage cycling and support local businesses," said Hunter, who added that the focus for the Mayor’s Office was to make the program as easy as possible for businesses and to have them benefit through a boost in sales.

Tim Papandreou, the SFMTA’s Deputy Director for Planning, said beyond meeting the city’s goal of encouraging cycling, I Bike SF would help reduce congestion in business corridors where parking is at a premium. Papandreou said Hayes Valley was a perfect pilot location because it is relatively flat, close to Market Street and similar bicycle corridors, and because the neighborhood is congested with cars looking for parking.

For Elizabeth Leu, who owns the children’s store Fiddlesticks on Hayes Street, the idea of promoting bicycles makes sense for San Francisco, along with starting the pilot in Hayes Valley, a strongly proud neighborhood that has voted to forbid chain stores.

"I think it’s spot on to be
rewarding bikes and people who bicycle," said Leu, who’s offering a 15 percent discount on non-sale items to bicycle riding customers. She was doubtful, however, about the impact it would have on business. "I don’t know about the
redemption. 
The jury is still out
on whether bikers will be taking advantage of the program."

Leu was also concerned that the city hadn’t done enough publicity around the program to create a buzz. "It needs more legs, it needs more viral marketing, but we haven’t seen
it," she said.

Hunter acknowledged that the Mayor’s Office was working on a quick turnaround to get the program started for Bike Month, but she expected the campaign would get more attention as Bike to Work day approaches. With the thousands of fliers in Bike to Work Day totes the SFBC will hand out on Thursday and an increasing focus in the media and bicycle newsletters, the program should be much better known by the time it expands to other commercial areas, including Lower Divisadero for June and Upper Market/Castro for July.

While the city expects the program will be popular with locals who already frequent familiar small businesses, the SFMTA’s Papandreou said the city was working with bicycle rental companies like Blazing Saddles and Bike and Roll to let tourists know about the I Bike SF campaign and get them to explore areas of San Francisco that are not along the usual Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf routes.

"We’re noticing the bicycle renters
at Bike and Roll and other facilities are riding the Embarcadero and the
Marina and taking their money to Sausalito," said Papandreou. The organizers of I Bike SF hoped to "engage people who come to the City of
San Francisco to start riding to and exploring other
neighborhoods."

In addition to the individual bicycle rental companies and local businesses, I Bike SF has partnered with the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and the Small Business Commission to promote the campaign and get their input.

Laurie Armstrong, Vice President for Public Affairs at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said they had organized similar programs like Show Your Zip during the holidays, which gave discounts to anyone who lived in a zip within the 9-county Bay Area, or Show Your Badge, which gave discounts to convention participants.

Armstrong said a campaign that supported bicycles for shopping locally dovetailed with the current efforts to market San Francisco as a leading green city. She also echoed the SFMTA’s concern that tourists weren’t necessarily exploring many of the neighborhoods in San Francisco that weren’t among the traditional destinations.

"As it expands from neighborhood to neighborhood, it encourages people to explore the city, see all the neighborhoods," said Armstrong. "It really suits San Francisco well, so we’re happy to see it rolling."

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

SFBC and MTC Debut New SF Bike Mapper

|
The SF Bike Mapper with street gradient, Bike to Work Day Commuter Convoy location, and Hayes Valley businesses participating in the "I Bike SF" campaign. Not to be outdone by Google Maps for bicycles or Ride the City, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, SF Environment and the […]

Silicon Valley’s First “Bike to Shop Day” Set for May 17

|
Planning to build on the wave of enthusiasm for bike commuting generated each May by Bike to Work Day, transportation and health advocates in Silicon Valley are promoting a spin-off called Bike to Shop Day on Saturday, May 17, to encourage people to shop by bike at local businesses. Retail businesses offering discounts to bicycling customers are shown on […]

San Jose Candidates Campaign at Bike Party, Bike Life Festival

|
Mayoral candidate Sam Liccardo and District 3 City Council candidates Don Gagliardi and Raul Peralez all sought to demonstrate their support for improving cycling conditions in the state’s third-largest city at both September’s San Jose Bike Party and the inaugural San Jose Bike Life Festival. Gagliardi and Liccardo both spoke briefly to the over 2,000 bicyclists […]

To Become a Great Biking City, SF Needs to Stop Crawling and Start Running

|
Our Streetfilm from 2010 documented the experience of North American transportation officials and advocates in Copenhagen during the latest Velo-City conference. San Francisco doesn’t have to “reinvent the wheel” to become a bike-friendly place — the city need look no further than peers like Copenhagen, widely considered one of the world’s best cycling cities. So […]