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Bicycling business data in your district

The message at the 2011 National Bike Summit was: bicycling is good for business. Thanks to data from Bikes Belong and the America Bikes coalition partners, we were able to back up those words with numbers. America Bikes assembled fact sheets for every state and Congressional District.

They first list the amounts of federal investment in bicycling and walking using Transportation Enhancements since 1992 and Safe Routes to School since 2005. Then they show the gross revenue of bicycle retail stores for 2009 and the number of retail stores in the district or state. In the majority of the districts, the entire federal investment since 1992 is matched by retail revenue in just a few years.

Go here to see the National Bike Summit fact sheets for your state and district.

The fact sheets were a new addition this year to address the priorities of the current Congress. “Given the current focus in Congress on budget cuts and job creation, the fact sheets were developed as an important tool for Summit attendees to educate the many new Members of Congress, as well as some of the more skeptical Members, on why the federal government must continue to invest in bicycling infrastructure,” says Walter Finch, League Advocacy Director.

“People know bicycling is good for health and the environment. The fact that biking is good for American businesses is not as intutitive, and people need to see the numbers to understand that,” says Daniel de Zeeuw, campaign coordinator for America Bikes, who created the fact sheets.

The fact sheets were even mentioned in the Washington Post:

The hundreds of bike advocates encamped at the Grand Hyatt for the National Bike Summit have been armed with fact sheets for their foray to the Capitol. Just like Sarbanes, members will be told precisely how many stores sell bikes in their districts and how much their constituents spend on two-wheelers.

They appear to have been extremely effective. “We have found in our meetings with the Members and staff that the fact sheets have been very well received,” the League’s Finch says. “Many have told us that they are quite enlightened when they see the economic impact that bicycling has meant for their specific districts and communities.”

“In every office I visited, regardless of which side of the isle they were on, eye brows raised when I began to talk about the dollars and cents our industry brought into each district,” says Dan Thornton, president and owner of Free-Flite Bicycles in Georgia.  “In every case when I offered to leave behind the fact sheet, the staffer or actual Member excitedly accepted it. In all my meetings over the years it was the first time I felt the materials left were actually reviewed upon our departure.”

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