What’s the BF(B)D? Connecting Neighborhoods through Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts

submission by Green Octopus Consulting
What’s the BF(B)D? Connecting Neighborhoods through Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts

Organization Name

:

Green Octopus Consulting

Website

http://www.greenoctopus.net/

Indicator

Please select the one indicator that is most relevant to your project or organization: Social Connectedness

What is your idea and how will it impact your indicator?

 

Green Octopus Consulting will partner with local business associations, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), and LA Streetsblog to create five bicycle-friendly business districts in Los Angeles. A bicycle-friendly business district is where a community comes together around bicycles to bike to area shops and restaurants – and where merchants and employees ride, too. It’s the integration of bicycling into a business district’s operations, events, and promotions.
 


Bicycle-friendly business districts improve local economies by strengthening connections between residents and their local businesses, increasing small business revenues, and improving neighborhood vitality and connectedness, all the while improving public safety, environmental health, and GLH – Gross Local Happiness.
 


The ‘alienation’ that has historically defined the LA urban landscape – largely due to fast-moving cars that move through a place but don’t stop and connect with it – is starting to change. Bicycle-friendly neighborhoods are one of the strongest trends to emerge around the U.S. as a way to improve social connectedness in our communities. Getting people out of their cars and onto bikes as a mode of transport – particularly on the weekends for neighborhood shopping, dining and errands – is creating lasting, meaningful change for individuals, neighborhoods, and our local economies.
 


At the heart of this idea is to facilitate connections between business owners, local residents, and advocates. These stakeholders will work together to integrate bicycling into the neighborhoods’ existing events, online and print promotions, and business association operations. We’ll:
 

• Produce a bike map and destination guide for each district
 

• Host community rides through the districts
 

• Incorporate bicycling into each district’s events through bike valets, free basic bike repair, bike portraits, and more
 

• Outfit the districts with bikes for errands and deliveries
 

• Produce two LA Streetsblog videos introducing people to the program and shopping by bike
 

• Create a snazzy program website with everything you'd want to know about the program
 

• Establish lasting relationships between business districts and their local bike shops and the LACBC
 


Through interactive workshops, each district will decide what else they’d like to incorporate into their neighborhood. Business districts will benefit from free publicity as their efforts are recognized in the bicycling community and general media.
 


Bicycling goes hand-in-hand with placemaking – creating a ‘sense of place’ for a neighborhood. Increased bicycling in a business district results in more women and children coming to that area, increased small business sales helps retain the diversity of our locally-owned businesses and each area’s unique character, and the increased vitality makes an area more welcoming to people all-around. The result is a socially connected community anchored by vibrant local business districts that are safe and pleasant for residents to bike and walk to.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

 

• Working with Business Improvement Districts and community groups in LA and around the U.S. since 1999 on sustainable urban transport and placemaking, urban operations, events, marketing, and public outreach.
 

• Creating Bicycle-Friendly Business District programs across the U.S. and Canada, including: the first such program in Long Beach, CA, in four districts (video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEYlfd-xGGs); the second program in San Diego, CA, in 18 districts (video: https://vimeo.com/60624768); inspiring the third program in New York, NY; creating the fourth effort in Oakville, ON; and starting the creation of many other efforts around the U.S. and Canada.
 

• Having our work featured in several bicycling, urban planning, and general media publications, and helping Long Beach garner significant media attention. Receiving awards for our Bicycle-Friendly Business District work and being asked to speak around the continent at 30 conferences/cities over the past year and a half.
 

• Producing free community rides and lasting media, such as this one in Long Beach’s Cambodia Town with the notable band Dengue Fever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeqc8exO1oo.
 

• Being the subject of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Manager, Andreas Rohl’s grant to study our work in Long Beach and San Diego in an effort to implement our ideas in Copenhagen.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

 

Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and its local chapters and neighborhood bike ambassadors, L.A. Streetsblog, local Business Improvement Districts and other business associations, small business owners, student interns, and neighborhood councils.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

 

We believe in evaluating our projects through both data and personal stories. For this project we will measure in four primary ways:
 


1. Business Perception Survey: Ask business association leaders and business owners how they feel about bicycling, bicyclists, bike lanes, and so on, and what percentage of their customers they think arrive via bike, walking, transit, or car. Survey issued at start of the program and again at the end (same survey, same people).
 


2. Customer Behavior Survey: Conduct intercept surveys of customers to see how they arrived at each district. Survey issued at start of program.
 


3. Program Element Tracking: Track the results of each program element (number of people who park their bikes at bike valets, participate in the free basic bike repairs, attend community rides, and so on).
 


4. Business and Customer Testimonials: Stories gathered from BID leaders, business owners, and other district stakeholders about how bicycling is/has become part of their life/business.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles? Please be specific.

 

There are currently 38 Business Improvement Districts in the City of Los Angeles, several other business associations, and hundreds of other business groups around LA County. Several have approached us, wanting to create bicycle-friendly business district initiatives after seeing our success in other cities, but lacking the seed money to kick-start them. This grant will create five successful programs and serve as examples for others to replicate. Program work will be broadcast by LA Streetsblog to countywide and national audiences and through media releases.
 

Through this program, we are cultivating future leaders in this emerging sector by building ties between local advocates and business owners and by engaging interns with diverse backgrounds to learn a unique blend of business, planning, and communication skills. Our future economy will rely on individuals who can bridge barriers and collaborate with people in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
 

Why is bicycling important for LA’s neighborhoods and local businesses? Bicyclists travel at human scale speed and are more connected to their surroundings than if whizzing by in a car. They can easily stop and say hi to friends, hop off, park for free, and patronize a business. Bicyclists shop more frequently and spend more money cumulatively than those arriving by other modes. Sometimes they become repeat customers and get to know the business owner by name. It’s old-fashioned Americanism at its best. It’s when a family of four chooses to spend its Saturday afternoon bicycling to the local toy or ice cream shop instead of driving across town to a mall.
 

When businesses make deliveries and run errands via bicycle – whether it’s one company’s bike or shared district bikes – business owners who never met before become acquainted and interact more. Business Improvement Districts who conduct some of their operations and promotions via bike instead of car become more connected to the communities they’re representing.
 

Bicyclists in business districts bring more ‘eyes and ears’ to keep an area safe, vibrant, and connected. Increased bicycling also correlates to decreased driving, traffic, car speeds, and parking congestion. It brings safer public streets for all users.
 

Bicycling – exercise, fresh air, and social interaction – improves the emotional, mental and physical health of children and adults. It increases happiness, improves school and work performance, and decreases obesity, heart disease, asthma, depression, and social alienation.
 

Encouraging human-scale traveling and interaction is key to revitalizing our struggling small business districts and putting LA on the map as a livable place and destination.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

 

By 2050, all business districts in LA County will have integrated bicycling into their existing operations and promotions. They will do this after becoming aware – through the success of other districts – that it’s a core part of their emergency preparedness, business revenues, community vitality, and the social fabric that supports their existence. The education and actions by local businesses to integrate bicycling meaningfully into their districts will have created a business advocacy base for safer bicycle infrastructure so that by 2050, LA will have a more developed system of safe bike lanes and increased ridership.
 


Vibrant local business districts will be at the center of community life, with safe and convenient biking and walking connections to neighborhoods. The 38 BIDs in the City of LA and hundreds across LA County will multiply as the economy shifts to favor local retail, prompting redoubled investment in currently struggling commercial corridors. Bicycling and walking to local destinations will be how families choose to spend their leisure time because it is pleasant and social.

Discussion
23 Pink-talk-bubble-tail

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Having been a volunteer for the BFBD program in Long Beach I was able too see the many ways a BFBD program can benefit local businesses. BFBD

by sswarner1
about 1 year ago | Reply

Having been a volunteer for the BFBD program in Long Beach I was able too see the many ways a BFBD program can benefit local businesses. BFBD's in Long Beach opened up businesses to new customers by promoting bicycling as an advantageous way to shop local. I can see how LA neighborhoods would benefit from a similar program, particularly with the recent investments in bicycling facilities and public transit. Good luck!

by sswarner1
about 1 year ago | Reply

I just returned from Portland, Oregon to go on a bike tour of the area--I am looking forward to having Los Angeles continue to connect bike routes and trails too so locals and tourists can enjoy seeing the city the way one should--out of the car!

by kikisquid
about 1 year ago | Reply

While I live near downtown LA, I still regularly take Metro down to Long Beach to bike around and check out my favorite restaurants, bars, and stores. The BFBD program helped make an already-beautiful city even more pleasant, and I hope to see the same thing happen here in Los Angeles. Younger professionals are increasingly choosing to live in walkable, bikeable neighborhoods, and a BFBD program will encourage even more people to shop and dine locally.

by rjohn1848
about 1 year ago | Reply

Having had the opportunity to see the positive impacts BFBD

by sswarner1
about 1 year ago | Reply

So excited for LA's potential...ride with April...and she will revitalize communities and neighborhoods...

by Bryan D Jones
about 1 year ago | Reply

Biking = Business and no one knows that better than April with Octopus Consulting...she improves neighborhoods and businesses by connecting people!!!

by Bryan D Jones
about 1 year ago | Reply

This project would be perfect for LA!

by patflynn17
about 1 year ago | Reply

Let's try again, seems to be that everyone's comments get cut off! San Diego launched the nation's largest BFBD program in 2012 with April's guidance and support. She is a wealth of information but more importantly gives the program the marketing pow! that it needs to be successful with her connections in the bike 'network' April was a key part of our programs success.

by tiffany1972
about 1 year ago | Reply

San Diego launched the nation

by tiffany1972
about 1 year ago | Reply

I want to get her to Madison. Even though we've already got a strong bike culture I know April can take us to the next level.

by DCA Consult
about 1 year ago | Reply

April is terrific. I

by DCA Consult
about 1 year ago | Reply

What a fabulous program! I'd love to see this initiative in Culver City, where biking is emerging as a key to our quality of life, but there are still definite needs to create more infrastructure and education to make a truly bike-friendly city. I've been following the work of Green Octopus with interest - and envy - and think the time is right to see this great work in my town!

by meghan.sahliwells.27
about 1 year ago | Reply

What a fabulous program! I

by meghan.sahliwells.27
about 1 year ago | Reply

April is LA County

by ebruins
about 1 year ago | Reply

Trying again... April is LA County's homegrown bike-friendly business expert. She's been lending her knowledge all around the US and Canada, but we're excited for the opportunity for her to put her talents to use at home. Local businesses are the heart of any liveable community. Bringing them on board as champions of local economies centered on walking and biking is good for our health, our environment, and our future. I know our local chapters will be thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Green Octopus to make their own business districts bike-friendly.

by ebruins
about 1 year ago | Reply

We

by LAStreetsblog
about 1 year ago | Reply

hmmm, let's finish that thought. "We are very excited to be a part of this grant application. We first covered the BFBD in Long Beach in 2011, and are excited about the chance to be a part of making it happen in L.A."

by LAStreetsblog
about 1 year ago | Reply

hmmm, let's finish that thought. "We are very excited to be a part of this grant application. We first covered the BFBD in Long Beach in 2011, and are excited about the chance to be a part of making it happen in L.A."

by LAStreetsblog
about 1 year ago | Reply

We are seeing much more activity and "connectivity" in Bixby Knolls once we starting promoting cycling in the district. Through our partnerships with our local businesses and our Kidical Mass rides we are seeing more residents riding the neighborhoods for both pleasure and for shopping and dining needs. We appreciate the help from Green Octopus in brainstorming how we can best create a unique Bike Friendly Business District in Bixby Knolls.

by bixbyknollsBIA
about 1 year ago | Reply

Green Octopus is the internationally recognized thought leader in creating BFBDs across North America. With their unique insight and broad experience, they are a potent force for local economic development and strengthening neighborhoods at low cost with maximum impact. LA should jump on this proposal!

by ThomasLBowdenEsq
about 1 year ago | Reply

This is just amazing, Great to see cycling being promoted as a means to benefit business. And businesses promoting cycling - just a win win proposal

by PamD
about 1 year ago | Reply

Bike Local- Shop Local! Thanks to Green Octopus Consulting, we put together a powerful collaboration of local BID's , city government and local advocates to create the nation's largest Bicycle Friendly Business District Program. Beacuse of this, we are seeing more local businesses welcoming people who ride and bicyclists shopping and spending more in their own neighborhoods. It's a awesome program!

Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director
San Diego County Bicycle Coalition

by execdir@sdcbc.org
about 1 year ago | Reply

Pink-ribbon-award-box-icon
Award_topvotedidea
$1,000,000 in total grants
Circle-1-inactive Step1-title-submission-inactive

Submission Began
Tuesday, February 26

Submission Ended
Thursday, March 28
at 12:00 PM PDT

Circle-2-inactive Step2-title-voting-inactive

Voting Began
Tuesday, April 02

Voting Ended
Wednesday, April 17
at 12:00 PM PDT

Circle-3 Step3-title
Homeboy Industries: Hope Has An Address
Homeboy Industries: Hope Has An Address

Winner Announced
Wednesday, May 08

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