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The Silicon Valley biking event tries to show people that shopping by bicycle is easy and fun.
While Bike to Work Week is celebrated all across the US, a smaller, similar biking event is gaining momentum in Silicon Valley, CA. On May 23, 2015, the 2nd annual Bike to Shop Day will be encouraging people to do their errands by bike as part of national Bike Month.
Janet Lafleur, the product marketing manager for a Silicon Valley tech company and an everyday cyclist, started the event in 2014 after realizing that many people still viewed shopping by bicycle as a fringe activity, or even impossible.
“There’s all this emphasis in the US on either sport riding or bike commuting in a traditional sense, but there was no attention that was being paid to these smaller errand trips that I was doing all the time,” said Lafleur. Since the majority of Americans shop closer to their homes than they work, biking to the shops is a more attainable goal than bike commuting for anyone who may be hesitant to get started on two wheels.
When Lafleur launched the event last year with the support of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, a number of men liked the idea, but it was women who were particularly enthusiastic. “They definitely had more interest in it. I think for a lot of women the whole Bike to Work idea wasn’t that successful … they couldn’t do it as much as they wanted because they had to worry about gear, or it was too far or they had to pick up kids or whatever,” Lafleur explained. “But doing the errands was something they could definitely do.”
With no need to worry about work materials or a change of clothes, storage space on the bike is freed up for purchases. And since nobody is concerned with what to wear to the grocery store, many people took the opportunity to throw on some workout clothes, take the long route to the grocery store, and combine their errands with exercise.
Using a team of volunteers, Bike to Shop Day recruited local businesses to offer incentives – such as discounts or freebies – to customers who arrived by bike. In 2014, they had over 90 businesses sign up in 11 cities and this year, the list has grown.
Bike to Shop Day highlights a growing trend in the US that positions the bicycle as a viable mode of transport for everyday activities. As more and more people ride their bikes to work and to the shop, it will be on politicians and planners to adjust infrastructure accordingly.
“My dream is that the next time we go to one of these city planning meetings and we’re talking about how to build the shopping center or whatever, they say, ‘You know what, there’s not going to be a lot of space for car parking we’re going to need more bike racks.’” Lafleur said. “I just want it to be part of the planning, I want it to be seen as something so normal and something so efficient that they plan for it ahead of time.”