Bike Friendly Destinations talk plans, benefits of being two-wheel friendly

Cincinnati-based cycling advocacy organization Queen City Bike kicked off Bike Month in May with the launch of a new award. The Bike Friendly Destinations program honored 41 destinations at a May 2 ceremony, granting certifications ranging from Gold to Honorable Mention.

Two Gold recipients, the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky and the Mercantile Library in Downtown Cincinnati, said the changes they made that earned the designation were relatively simple and inexpensive. And while their motivations - and response from patrons and employees - differ, representatives from both said they're seeing benefits from being bike-friendly.

TANK spokesperson Gina Douthat said that the transit organization didn't just rely on its highly visible bus-mounted bike racks for the award; a number of employee-facing changes have also made bike commuting an alternative for TANK staff.

"Being an organization that's into alternative modes of transportation, we continually encourage employees to look at alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles," she said. TANK offers both indoor and outdoor bike storage at its offices, and Douthat said on-site showers and the ability for some employees to flex schedules make it easier for employees to ride to and from the office. 

"It gives them the ability to fit workouts into their lives a lot better," she said.

Cedric Rose, part of the Mercantile Library's collection staff, said that he's seen an upswing in patrons riding in. 

"Among our patrons, we have some younger people who, that's just the way they get around," he said. "Overall, I definitely think there's been an upswing."

Queen City Bike staff helped the library acquire a bike rack for its Walnut Street entrance, and the library has opened its 11th-floor lobby to let patrons park their bikes indoors.

Cincinnati Department of Transportation city planner Melissa McVay, who has worked on a number of bike advocacy issues, said the awards could play a major role in reaching out to potential riders unfamiliar with the city's bike culture.

"One of the things we struggle with is the people we're able to communicate with are already cycling," she said. Many of the winning businesses conducted Bike Month campaigns and publicity drives among their patrons, she added. "That's going to reach so many more people than we could ever reach on our own."

And as non-riding patrons and employees of the award-winning businesses are exposed to the city's growing bike culture, Queen City Bike Program Coordinator Jess Linz said she hopes to see a more significant shift in the way Cincinnatians think about transit.

"These groups are now representing a bike-friendly transportation mindset," she said. "There's this value in the private realm for this kind of cultural change."

Writer: Matt Cunningham
Photography by Matt Cunningham
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