We have biking programs here in Ithaca that do a great job of promoting biking: AIDS Ride for Life, Streets Alive, Bike to Work Day, Andrej’s Solstice Ride, the Ithaca Generator’s Bike Club, FingerLakes Cycling, various athletic and others. In Minneapolis there are incentives such as dedicated biking lanes. There are bike lanes where the cars stop, and there “rewards” for those who meet certain biking goals. In other cities there are biking clinics (has ours closed?) and workshops for issues such as “How to Bike in Winter.“ These events are mostly targeted to the existing biker.
What about the biker lurking deep, deep inside that car driver who wants to do good for the environment but just can’t seem to get started?
This morning I was reading the Ithaca Times and came across a question the staff posed : “Would you start biking to work in the winter to save a few bucks on parking?” A few bucks once a week? Every day? Is a few two or three? Would I bike 20 miles in a snow and ice storm? I do have some problems with that question, and can’t wait to see if there’s any response other than “Are you freaking out of your mind?” but the question started me thinking: How could you incentivize biking in Ithaca so that someone who has a bike but doesn’t use it, would bike to work? Or even into town to pick up a dozen eggs? And my second thought was other than the number of thoughts a person normally has a day is 70,000, is that those who do drive their cars into downtown most likely have to pay for parking, unless they have city friends with driveways.
So, here in Ithaca we have an under-abundance of bikers, and over- abundance of cars and an (supposedly) under-abundance of parking spaces. How about offering a week of free parking — to anyone who does not normally bike — if that person agrees to bike into town for 5 days? Don’t say no yet. Verify… hmmm … employer verification? Honesty? A selfie on the bike? Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.
I was running this past my son (an electric biker) and he said, “Well how about going up before City Council and saying We really want to solve our transportation problems and reduce emissions, so how about offering tax credits to those who buy electric bikes, or better yet, subsidizing e-bikes?”
Thank you, Ben. Especially for those who can’t afford cars and the car insurance.
I would to hear other thoughts.