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Unclassified Info: Boosting bicyclists could mean big business

March 08, 2012|By Gary Huerta

I'm always intrigued by what topics get people riled up in our little corner of the universe. This week's hubbub seems to be centered on city plans to spend money on more bike lanes and markings.

A lot of folks seem to be against it. I have to admit, the notion of our financially burdened government spending money to paint lines on the road for bicyclists seemed unwise at a first glance.

To begin with, according to certain surveys, we rank near the bottom for having the worst drivers and worst overall record for pedestrian safety. To throw a bunch of bicyclists out there on the road with nothing more than a line of paint and a few signs for protection seems like a dangerous prospect. To put it in perspective, I ride a motorcycle, and I consider Glendale to be the riskiest part of my daily 52-mile round-trip commute to El Segundo.

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Additionally, when this paper reported it could cost $5 million with about $380,000 for bicycle parking, I started wondering where all that money would really go. So I did a little digging and discovered a few interesting things about planning a bicycle-friendly community.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group representing the interests of the nation's 57 million cyclists, California ranks 20th out of 50 states in overall bicycle-friendliness. In their evaluation, our state's shortcomings include a grade of “F” in Infrastructure and a “D” in both Evaluation & Planning and Enforcement.

To our credit, we got an “A” in Legislation, so there would seem to be hope that if Glendale does moderately well in evaluating and planning, we might get some assistance from Sacramento.

But before we start planning all our money away, maybe we ought to think about what it means to accommodate bicyclists as a business venture. In other words, maybe we need a business plan for our bicycle plan.

If we were a company investing $5 million in making Glendale bicycle-friendly, what would we expect from those riders? After all, no company would invest $5 million without questioning its return on investment.

From a promotional perspective, we can always tout the fact that we are being proactive about getting cars off the road and improving the environment. Plus, we can say we are doing our part to promote healthier lifestyles. I would consider those to be intangible benefits.

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