Since being resurrected this summer, the Jefferson City Bicycle Subcommittee has been working to expand the city's cycling culture — including starting a bicycle-friendly business program.
The program would involve signs or stickers along the Greenway Trails, pointing cyclists toward specific businesses that offer incentives.
Ashley Varner, Bicycle Subcommittee head, and Amy Schroeder, community relations manager for Jefferson City's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, said the program's main goal is to reward riders and businesses — riders receive incentives for being physically active and supporting businesses, while businesses increase their revenue and encourage activity in the community.
"People who bicycle or walk aren't going at the speed as people who are driving, so those bicyclists and walkers are more apt to find those businesses or patronize those businesses, because they're cycling or walking by rather than driving by," Schroeder said. "So it gives more exposure to those businesses for people who are walking or riding a bicycle."
The subcommittee plans to start the program along the Greenway Trails, with the Katy Trail being a long-term goal. Varner said it would be difficult to incorporate the program along the Katy Trail since it runs along the north side of Jefferson City where there aren't many businesses.
The subcommittee has not reached out to businesses yet, but plans to in the spring, Varner said. Subcommittee members are discussing the best way to implement the program, which also will require work with the Parks Department on the business signs or stickers.
Varner said since there are businesses located near the greenway, she thinks the bicycle-friendly business program would operate smoothly. "We know that cyclists like to spend money and that they will come off the trail to support their local community and support economic development," said Varner, healthy communities coordinator and wellness navigator at Capital Region Medical Center.
Businesses interested in the program can contact Varner at AVarner@crmc.org or Schroeder at ASchroeder@jeffcitymo.org.
Varner also told the Environmental Quality Commission last week she hopes to have a citywide bike-share program in place by spring. The bike-share program would operate through Zagster, a bike-share company, and would consist of 10 kiosks with 50 bikes total.
Zagster representatives visited Jefferson City a few weeks ago to speak with potential sponsors, and Varner said many businesses and groups were interested in the program. Businesses and groups that agree to sponsor the bike-share program could advertise on the bikes, which Schroeder said would tie back into a bicycle-friendly business program.
The bicycle-friendly businesses and bike-share program would help the city work toward a national bicycle-friendly community designation through the American League of Bicyclists. The city recently received an honorable mention for its bicycle-friendliness.