Here’s an idea for retailers of any type.

Ok so here’s something that has been floating around in my head. Retailers should offer some sort of discount to customers if those customer were to ride their bike to their store. I figured this would be great for coffee shops, restaurants, movie theaters, bike shops, ice cream parlors and the like. Heck — even bicycle shops should offer some sort of discount for riding your bike to the shop! When I worked at a shop, most of the clientele who brought bikes in for service or just to shop, drove in. Then again, I live in Southern California, the car capital of the U.S.
But I digress. People love discounts, and it has been proven in my line of work that if you “take care” of your customers, they are more likely to be loyal to your brand. I suppose the challenge of executing something like this would be the effectiveness of the “discount.” I would imagine that in places where there is a saturated amount of cyclists/commuters, this would work.

Any thoughts? Do you know of a place that does something like this?


  1. Dylan

    There is a movie theatre in Detroit that did that but they’ve had to move and redo their business model so they don’t really do that anymore. It was sweet though a dollar off for non-cars.

  2. Rob E.

    Not exactly. But sort of similar. One local brewery/bar/restaurant has a regular, Tuesday night bike ride. After the ride, draft beers are a dollar off. But that’s the special of the day, and is available whether or not you join the ride.

    Then there’s a local theater who does mid-week “classic” movie a couple of times a month. They used to support our bike co-op with a great incentive: If you joined our co-ops ride to the show, you paid nothing and you parked your bike inside the theater, which was great both for security and because bike parking outside was scarce. As our bike co-op dissolved, we still tried to do the ride, still parked inside, still didn’t pay. Even when it was just me, I was waved on in. Eventually I just started buying tickets because I really want to support the classic series, but I still bring my bike inside. I consider this a big bonus, but they don’t really advertise that, which is a shame. Getting in free with your bike was great, but even getting a discount would be a good deal, too, and I agree that it could be great to use that to encourage bike riding.

  3. Zack

    Bicycle Benefits is one program that does this. You buy a sticker for $5 or so, put it on your helmet and bring your helmet in when you shop at participating businesses.

    It’s a good model, but last I heard it was being operated by one person! Maybe being adopted by a national organization would give it some greater recognition.

  4. Oliver

    There are a couple of shops in NYC that does this. One is Birdbath in the East Village, another is a bakery in SOHO (I forget the name at the moment.

  5. Ashe Dryden

    Ditto on the Bicycle Benefits. I live in Madison WI – a VERY bike friendly city – nearly all the local shops offer benefits for biking to their shop. Just show them the sticker on your helmet and they automatically apply the discount. When we moved to Madison, we got rid of our car and we bike everywhere. Our favorite discount is at our local co-op where we get all of our groceries, but we also get discounts at restaurants, little shops and boutiques, etc.

  6. Derek

    I think we should stop forcing retailers, through city codes, to overbuild their parking lots, and instead let them use modern, SFPark-style parking management to prevent parking shortages.

  7. Chris

    Since parking is usually a big issue in urban areas, I think business that promote cycling, or catering to cyclists, should get some relief on parking standards too. And the businesses could transfer that cost savings to the customers. It would reduce the need for parking, congestion and localized air pollution.

    A co-worker recently proposed that if we allow a certain development to have almost no parking that it would foster bike-ped choices. Of course the development is isolated from amenities and daily destinations, so his idea was kind of naive. And the surrounding roadways are absolutely NOT bike friendly. By building with little or no parking in such a situation would create more problems than it would solve.

    My suggestion is to improve the bike-ped infrastructure first, and then allow the types of non-transportation development that would foster more bike-ped activity. Combine that with financial incentive like you mentioned and we are one step closer to biketopia.

  8. Dann

    The local advocacy group in Omaha, Nebraska (Omaha Bikes) has been doing this for a good while now! It is called the Bike Friendly Destiation program! It’s for stores that offer bike parking, discounts, free water refills, the works! You can check it out here:

  9. RL Policar (Post author)

    I think this is really awesome to see that there are bike friendly places out there.

  10. David

    Knoxville, TN has a discount program. You request free “I bike KNX” stickers for you bike and helmet. Then bring your helmet into the participating location to get a discount. Only one place a month right now, but it is a start!

  11. Jesse

    There are dozens of businesses here in Seattle that participate in Bicycle Benefits, and it’s a great program. I often stop for a dark chocolate bar at Theo’s on the way home Friday (I know, wild weekend…I don’t want to hear it) and they don’t even check for the sticker, just see the helmet and give me 50% off!

    If it’s really being run by one person I see a definite opportunity for a national advocacy group to get some great coverage…

  12. Paul G

    I’m not aware of anything like that in the Hampton Roads area. There is a bank that opened near me with bike racks in the first parking spot. I’m thinking about checking them out just for that.

  13. Mir.I.Am

    Great idea RL!

    There is a local cafe that was considering something like this: a bike punch card! For every ten times you bike to the cafe (where parking is terrible and mostly valet) then you get a stamp. For every ten stamps a free beverage! Not bad for me since I do it anyway!

  14. Bernasconi

    Thankfully we have a program like this in San Diego. I really enjoy the 10-20% of my favorite watering holes:

  15. Ghost Rider

    In Tampa, periodically through the hockey season, the Tampa Bay Lightning offer FREE tickets to anyone who rides their bike to the game. That’s the only Bicycle Benefit I know of there.

    As far as parking, I am so tired of subsidizing all these free parking with my tax money. Giant lots serve only to cater to motorists and help destroy surface water quality in the process.

  16. Graham

    That’s an interesting approach, RL. Instead of offering incentives to bike, offer disincentives to drive. I can’t even imagine how much money there is to be made if Wal Mart shoppers had to drop a quarter to park…

    If someone were foresighted enough to earmark that money for bicycle infrastructure, we’d be set!

  17. BluesCat

    GR – Yeah and all those parking lots cause “heat islands” which serve to run up the average urban temperature.

    Don’t know of ANY benefit/discount programs for bicyclists in Phoenix. I have a favorite restaurant which is really bike friendly, but doesn’t give any discounts: Bike-Friendly Restaurant: Baja Loco (Phoenix, AZ).

  18. Don

    My LBS does this. Anybody who can visually verify from the cash register should.

  19. Luke Hanna

    Free coffee for bike riders at Wormhole Coffee in Chicago!

  20. karen

    If the business had an incentive to encourage use of provided bike parking then it could work. Many cities and towns have parking space to square footage ratio that varies depending on the type of establishment. Reductions in the number of required spaces are often provided it the establishment is close to a bus stop, provides a bus shelter or offers bike parking to encourage those alternative modalities. I think it would also help if the staff of the business regularly used bikes and that it was obvious to the customer. Just a wild guess but a loyal customer base that likes to identify with the people who work at their favorite business might be more likely to joint the club.

  21. J Legg

    Love this idea. $4.08/gal today.

  22. David

    On the other hand how about retailers place a reliable device to secure our bicycles to outside the facility I intend to shop at?

    This last week I happened upon a facility that had a wooden rack for bikes(made from wood), thanks for nothing.

  23. Cass

    My company,Saris, has developed a new system called The Hub where businesses, schools, and employers can offer incentives to commuters. You earn points for every time you scan your key dongle.

    We use it at work and have various levels of prizes you can win. Businesses could do the same and offer a certain level of discount or even free goods/services when a customer reaches a certain point.

  24. Tom

    Large supermarkets routinely offer gasoline discounts to customers for dollars spent. I am uncertain if this influences consumers choise in where they make their purchases. This seems to reward shoppers for driving. I wish for an incentive for not driving or perhaps a more equitable form of customer appreciation.

  25. allen

    Fayetteville, ar has a neighborhood pub that offers your first beer at half off if you walk or ride in. We also have the bicycle benefits sticker.

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