Grunion Gazette - Long Beach

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Businesses Welcome Bicyclers

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Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 3:26 pm | Updated: 10:03 am, Mon Jun 20, 2011.

    Riding your bike on the weekends now could help you slim down and fatten your wallet.

    Mayor Bob Foster declared Wednesday that Long Beach is officially home to the nation’s first bike-friendly business districts. Thanks to a partnership between the city and several business associations, this designation translates into “Bike Saturday,” a program designed to help both small businesses and patrons economically benefit from riding bicycles.

    As part of the program, participating businesses in these “bike friendly districts” — Bixby Knolls, 4th Street/Retro Row, the East Village Arts District and Cambodia Town — will offer discounts on Saturday for customers who bike to shop or dine there.

    The program officially begins this Saturday, June 4. Participating businesses will have a Bike Long Beach sticker on the window.

    “(This program) is another effort to become bicycle friendly and an incentive for people to get out of their cars,” Foster said at a press conference Wednesday at The Workshop — which is Bixby Knolls’s first bike shop.

    The program also includes the incorporation of cargo bikes for merchants, which Foster said are being introduced in an effort to encourage businesses that deliver to use bicycles.

    These bike-friendly districts are sponsored by a $72,000 grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health through Project RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness). The project aims to help LA county cities by providing funding for cities and schools to work with communities to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce smoking.

    Natalie Gutenkauf, who owns The Factory Gastrobar on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Carson Street, said that she will offer a 15% discount to bikers.

    “I love bikes,” she said. “Plus, beer and food always taste a lot better after you’ve been riding.”

    In place of discounts, some businesses will partake in a monthly drawing where bikers can win merchandise or gift certificates.

    According to city officials, the program was created in an effort to help small businesses regain financial stability by encouraging the community to shop locally. The program also works in conjunction with the city’s mission to become a bike friendly city. As part of that effort, the city has invested in creating numerous bike lanes and placing bike racks throughout the city.

    Kerstin Kansteiner, owner of Portfolio Coffeehouse and Berlin by Portfolio Coffeehouse, said that the effort to become bike-friendly has helped her businesses to grow.

    “(We’ve) seen a huge broadening of our customer base,” she said.

    Blair Cohn, Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, said that the program will help his efforts to create a more unified and active community while encouraging the growth of small business.

    He also said that the program adds to the many other activities going on in the district, such as Literary Society and Strollers Club.

    “(Bike Saturday) adds one more layer to Bixby Knolls,” Cohn said. “Just like growing wildflowers, it’s much more attractive when there’s more of them.”

    For more information about Bike Saturday and to find a list of participating businesses, visit www.bikelongbeach.org.