Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bike Valet + Passive Advocacy = Economic Impact

The third season of the Bike Jax Bike Valet at Riverside Arts Market (RAM) just concluded this past Saturday. It has taken 3 years, but I actually think folks have finally started figuring out how much easier and more convenient it is to ride a bike to the market than it is to drive and find parking.

I've mentioned this in prior posts, but the goal of the bike valet is simply to provide the infrastructure and let people figure it out on their own. No proselytizing about what to ride, how to ride, or what to wear. Each season, more and more people are figuring it out and this year we have doubled the number bikes parked over the previous year. Not only have we double the amount of bikes parked, we have noticed that the majority of those bikes now sport baskets, racks, and panniers to carry their haul of fresh veggies and local art home.

The idea of passive advocacy is a simple one. Give the public a popular destination with safe and secure bicycle parking, and they will come. Our thought in the beginning was that if we got folks to ride their bikes to RAM on Saturdays, they will eventually notice they are passing the grocery story, the drug store, and schools, along with all their favorite places to dine. The added benefit is that many are also able to see their work place in downtown from the site of RAM under the Fuller Warren Bridge and figure out that bike commuting to work is a real possibility. And you know what happened? Just as the majority of bikes now have some way to carry cargo, those people are using the lowly bicycle to run their daily errands instead of getting in a car. There's actually a rush hour on the Northbank Riverwalk along the banks of the St Johns now between Riverside/Avondale and Downtown. Admittedly, it's a  small rush hour, but it's there and growing.

The bike valet has grown from an operation that one person could comfortably run, and now requires a multitude of volunteers. With all those new volunteers we were able to brach out of RAM and provide free and securing bike valet services for the Jacksonville Film Festival and the SORBAJax Movie event.

The numbers? We parked 3393 bikes this season. Of those parked 78% left the market with some type of purchase. A percentage of those that didn't have packages with them when they left, were there just for lunch from one of the many food vendors. So we roughly figure the bike valet brought in an economic impact of just under $34,000. We are basing those figures on every person parking a bike spending $10 either on food, art or fresh veggies from the farmers. Some of you may point out that some of the money would be there if the bike valet wasn't there, and sure, it would. In questioning regular users of the bike valet if having it made a difference in how often they visited the market, each person replied that they would still visit by car, just not nearly as often.

Those numbers may look small in print, but the I'm sure the effect of those numbers on the the artists, farmersand food venders made a huge difference in their pockets.

I would take this opportunity to thank everyone that volunteered. The success of the bike valet program couldn't work without you guys and gals.

I also need to thank the sponsors of the bike valet this year. Without your support we could never have even opened the bike valet. Thank you.

Here is short little recap of a few of the people and bikes we met this year. Thank you all for a very successful year. We're looking forward to a much more busy 2012!


Retro Bicycle said...

I think I need to open a bike basket sales and installation stand near you next year!

kkr said...

I for one had lots of fun manning the bike valet this year. I hope this year's valets are even more successful than those in 2010!

harley said...

well birthday brother, let's keep it vivacious and pedal driven, let's be the change we wish to see within Duval...I truly appreciate Bike Jax's community and the endearing friends therein...RIDE BIKES! ;D