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updated: 7/7/2014 5:20 AM

Batavia urges businesses to seek bicyclists' bucks

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  • Having bicycle racks in front of businesses -- and advertising their availability -- is one way to be a "Bicycle Friendly Batavia Business." The city's bicycle commission and Batavia MainStreet are trying to get businesses to do things to attract the bicyclists passing through town. The city installed this rack in 2012 when it redesigned North River Street.

       Having bicycle racks in front of businesses -- and advertising their availability -- is one way to be a "Bicycle Friendly Batavia Business." The city's bicycle commission and Batavia MainStreet are trying to get businesses to do things to attract the bicyclists passing through town. The city installed this rack in 2012 when it redesigned North River Street.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

 
 

On a typical summer weekend, bicyclists make about 5,000 trips through Batavia. And more than 90,000 trips by foot or bike are made on the Fox River Trail annually through the nearby Fabyan Forest Preserve,

Imagine what that would do for the downtown Batavia economy if they all stopped to grab a bite to eat.

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That's why the Batavia Bicycle Commission and Batavia MainStreet are promoting the new "Bicycle Friendly Batavia Business" campaign asking businesses to do things that appeal to bicyclists. If they promise to do at least 15 of the 27 practices the commission identified, and pay a $20 fee, the commission and MainStreet will advertise the business on the city's website, on promotional maps and the commission's Facebook page.

"We have this incredible potential to capture business," said John Gamble, chairman of the commission.

Bicyclist-friendly measures can be simple.

• Be friendly and outgoing, willing to give directions to the nearest bike shop, walk-in clinic, ATM, showers and more;

• Make restrooms available to bicyclists;

• Be willing to refill water bottles;

• Offer lockers for temporary storage of bags and purchases;

• Advertise prominently that you are willing to ship purchases;

• Keep extra locks, a tire pump and some repair tools on hand; and

• Put a bike rack in front of the business.

The latter is especially important. High-quality bicycles can cost as much as $2,000, so a rider may not be comfortable leaving it unsecured outside to stop in for a meal break. "A lot of people don't know that," Gamble said.

Batavia was deemed a Bike Friendly Community on 2013, one of six in Illinois, by the League of American Bicyclists. The city council approved the City of Batavia Bicycle Plan in 2007, and established the commission in 2009.

Gamble said Batavia is unique in the area, in that it has portions of the Fox River Trail on both sides of the Fox River. A 2012 survey of walkers and bicyclists who use the trail showed that access to restrooms and water fountains, and directions to nearby amenities, was lacking.

The trail needs better signage pointing people to downtown businesses, Gamble said. The 2012 Trails for Illinois survey, which involved six trails statewide, reported that 35 percent of respondents visited a bar or restaurant while using the trail, and that the average trail-visit-related expenditure was $30.40.

"You just need to cater to these people," Gamble said.

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