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story.lead_photo.caption A new decal advertising a "Cyclist Friendly Business" is visible in a window Thursday at Schnucks. Photo by Emil Lippe / News Tribune.

To help strengthen Jefferson City's cycling culture, Capital Region Medical Center's Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities and the Jefferson City Bicycle Subcommittee are calling for more "Cyclist Friendly Businesses."

With the growing cycling culture and anticipated swell in bicyclists locally due to the anticipated bike-share program expected in late June, this program will allow businesses to get involved, said Ashley Varner, healthy communities coordinator and wellness navigator at CRMC.

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"This is our attempt to help our community wrap its arms around cycling," said Varner, who also is head of the Bicycle Subcommittee.

To be considered a CFB, businesses must offer at least three of the following services: a public restroom, complimentary water so guests can refill water bottles, food, Wi-Fi, complimentary charging stations for electronics, complimentary bicycle locks, long-term vehicle parking for visitors taking multi-day bicycling trips, shipping for guests who arrive by bicycle and can't carry purchased items, a bicycle cleaning station, repair station, floor pump, parking, rentals, shuttle service or bicycle mechanic.

Businesses would receive a window decal stating they are a Jefferson City CFB and stickers they can give to cyclists.

The Jefferson City Convention and Visitor Bureau is one of nearly 10 organizations that have agreed to be a CFB. A handful of businesses have showed interest in the concept but have not selected their three services yet, Varner said.

The CVB will offer free Wi-Fi, complimentary charging for electronics and public restrooms.

CVB Communications and Film Manager Brittney Mormann said CFBs can enhance the city's bicycle experience for residents and visitors.

"We saw that cycling tourism is growing throughout the United States, and we saw a need to enhance bicyclists' experiences in Jefferson City," she said. "So for us, by being a bicycle-friendly business, I feel we're demonstrating our commitment to visitors who ride bikes and we can provide specific amenities they may need."

Embracing the cycling culture also will have a positive effect on the community's economy, Varner said.

The Katy Trail has about 400,000 visitors annually, according to a 2012 Katy Trail Economic Impact study by Missouri State Parks. The study states bicyclists spent more per day and stayed more nights in a city versus a non-resident who did not ride bicycles.

"It's important to recognize that cyclists do impact our community dollars in a positive way," Varner said. "Cyclists, they are moving by slower than a car, so they will move past these businesses in a slower fashion so they can see more of the businesses and stop and patronize those businesses.

"So this is an everyone-benefits situation. The businesses say, 'Hey, we're here to support you with open arms' — and these aren't very difficult things to offer — and the cyclists come in and spend more dollars and impact our economic development."

As part of the Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities action plan, the CFB program received a $5,540 grant.

Those interested in becoming a CFB can contact Varner at avarner@crmc.org or 632-5605.

The Bicycle Subcommittee and Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities have been working toward the CFB program since last fall.

States have experienced a 46 percent increase, on average, of people commuting by bicycle, according to a 2017 news release from the nonprofit League of American Bicyclists. Missouri saw a 70-100 percent increase.

During the past couple of years, Jefferson City has made strides to improve its cycling culture. It has added more bicycle racks and lanes around the city, it will roll out a bike-share program this summer, and the Jefferson City Environmental Quality Commission resurrected the Bicycle Subcommittee last July.

Jefferson City also applied for a bicycle-friendly community designation through LAB in August and received an honorable mention.

As an employer, Jefferson City received a bicycle-friendly business designation through LAB earlier this year, meaning the city provides bicycle features and education to city employees.

Missouri is ranked No. 32 in the country for bicycle friendliness, according to the LAB, up two spaces since December.

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