There is a bicycle myth that needs to be busted: bicycle lanes are bad for business.
People who ride bicycles are gainfully employed just like car drivers, except we don’t pay for petrol, parking, servicing, insurance or registration.
That’s an annual saving of a seriously large amount of money.
However, it seems to come as a surprise to some shop owners that we bicycle babes also like to buy stuff, and not just bicycle stuff.
On Sunday I took a trip down town with a friend only to discover the place was devoid of bicycle babes, and completely lacking bicycle parking for anyone who did buck the car trend and choose to go on a peddle-powered shopping spree.
I realised I’d just entred Loserville!
I’ve always found Melbourne’s Chapel Street a little naff. Over the years it’s gone from classic Melbourne boutique shopping to an endless strip of chain stores, frequented by people sporting fake tans, Armani sunglasses and boob jobs.
Although I avoid it, I did assume that a place that’s all about looking good, being cutting edge and ultra cool would have been one of the first places in Melbourne to get in to the bicycle groove.
Not so! But how could that be?
For those unfamiliar with Melbourne’s geography, Chapel street is only 5kms, probably less, from the city, and it’s a road with slow traffic, lots of cafes, a million shops to ride slowly past, and everyone is seeking to be the ultimate coolster.
Surely that calls for bicycle babes and bike blokes to sport more than a fake tan?
Surely it makes for a more exciting purchase when you can promenade your Gucci gear the entire length of Chapel Street on a bicycle, rather than enclose it in a car?
I know that it’s all about the shopping and they need something to transport all the shopping, but I can fit an entire week’s food shopping plus food for my dog in my bicycle basket.
And so, alas, my Sunday trip down town turned out to be a disaster, but an interesting and telling revelation all the same.
That such a ‘happening’ part of Melbourne is so seriously unhappy in the bicycle babe department, is a sign that something is seriously amiss.
What is missing is that a place of easy living and easy spending has not yet tuned in to the great benefits of easy transport, or the easy breathing that comes with fewer cars belching fumes at latte-sipping ladies.
It makes me wonder if this is another case of shop managers kicking up a fuss at attempts to replace car parking with bicycle lanes because they think it bad for business.
If shop owners did the thinking they’d see bicycle babes have a seriously large amount of extra cash and an inclination to spend it.
What also seems to have passed them by is that when you are speeding along in a car there is no window shopping happening, nor is there stopping to park in order to shop.
Let’s not kid ourselves, finding a car park these days is about as enjoyable as looking for a needle in a hay stack.
Bicycle commuters, on the other hand, can slow down to a window-shopping pace and we can stop anytime, anywhere, and do a touch of retail therapy.
It’s really a no brainier that a shopping street with big fat bicycle lanes will be good for the retail industry.
Shop keepers also can no longer use the ‘but not enough people ride’ argument either, it’s been proven one too many times that if you build big fat bicycle lanes people prefer the bicycle over the car.
It’s a wonder that Melbourne’s retailers have not cottoned on to the benefits and are not secretly financing a “truck-sized bicycle lanes” lobby group.
Sadly it’s been the opposite, and Melbourne’s councils have battled to bring in more bicycle parking and bike lanes because shop owners have bandied about the myth that bicycle lanes are bad for business.
So I’m hoping that The City of Melbourne is going to get with the program very soon, it would be a shame for Melbourne’s coolville to continue down the loserville path.
I did notice a soft-top Alfa Romeo with a “For Sale” sign, I’m assuming the owner is upgrading to a bicycle.