While checking our bikes into the Thursday at the Square valet bike service I was fortunate enough to meet Ian Klepetar, Founder of Bicyle Benefits. He was hanging around with Justin Booth (Blue Bikes), and helping to promote the new service… and he’s not even from Buffalo. Ian is biking across the country turning people onto the benefits of cycling. How is he doing this? He’s getting business communities to buy into the pro-cycling program. While visiting Boston a couple weeks ago he snapped a photo of the city’s Mayor affixing a Bicycle Benefit sticker to his helmet (see why below).
Earlier today, while tapping into WiFi at Quaker Bonnet on Allen Street, Ian walked in to talk to owner Liz Kolken about the program’s benefits. Before long, Liz was up at the front window slapping up her sticker. Now any biker who joins the program (for five bucks) can bring his or her bike helmet (with sticker) into Quaker Bonnet and get a free in-house lemonade, coffee, or iced tea along with access to the bathroom. Now that’s a deal! So grab your bike and your bennies and head out to any one of the businesses in Buffalo that are now supporting the urban bike riding scene. Here’s the story on how Ian got his start in this unusual business:
“I was in Saratoga and I started a bicycle advocacy group. It did that after two people (a cyclist and a pedestrian) got killed by cars. Bicycle Benefits was a way of rewarding people for considering healthy transportation options. I wanted people to look at biking as a mode of transportation. I also though that by putting the stickers on helmets, that would make people wear them when they were biking. That’s where the incentives came in. I left Saratoga in mid-January on my bike. First I headed to Burlington and spent the last two and a half months in Boston.
“Then from Boston I biked to Buffalo. Now I’m on my way to Madison, Wisconsin. That will take me ten days. There are target cities that I feel are important. Boston was given the title of most unfriendly biking city in the country. The Mayor had assigned a bike czar to the city to change that. I met with her, and now the City of Boston is keeping the program going. I got Justin Booth’s information through Morgan at the Market Arcade (one of the first businesses to sign up in Buffalo). By the time I leave Buffalo, between twelve and fifteen businesses will have signed up here. I’m hoping that even more sign up after I am gone.”
Buffalo First and Green Options Buffalo are helping to spearhead the effort locally, once Ian has biked off to Madison. Check here for a list of the Buffalo businesses that are participating in the program. And check back often for updated listings.
Also, look for the new Buffalo Bike Club group on FaceBook if you’re interested in the following:
Join up for random bike rides during the warmer months. Nothing organized, nothing stressful, just a bunch of people who like to ride on occasion. A ride might be announced on a Monday and take place on a Saturday. All rides will take place in the city. Helmets are required and stops along the way could include a museum, a pub, a beach… you never know.
And be sure to join the Buffalo Rising FaceBook group while you’re online.