My name is Bob Fisch, and I am the Chief Bike Fun Officer of Poky Pedaling Stevens Point.
Stevens Point was recently named a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community, or BFC, by the League of American Bicyclists. The BFC award is based on a systematic ranking process in several categories that also determines the BFC level achieved. Our bronze award is the entry level. Higher rankings can achieve silver, gold, platinum, and diamond levels.
The November 6 Stevens Point Journal contains a guest column I wrote highlighting economic benefits associated with being a Bicycle Friendly Community. I want to outline these for you.
Tourism provides one economic benefit. Sara Brish, Executive Director of the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, says that “biking is a popular sport with our visitors and has spurred economic growth in the area.” Catering to visitors who bicycle brings tourism dollars into our community and can inspire these visitors to move their families and businesses here.
A recent downtown business startup, a bicycle repair shop, illustrates another benefit. The owner enjoyed enough success to merit relocating to a new downtown location that tripled his retail space and enabled expansion of his sales business. Few other downtown businesses without alcohol revenue can make a similar claim. Efforts reflected by the BFC award create entrepreneurial opportunities.
Reduction in health care expenses are also coupled to being a BFC. Annie Wetter, President of Portage County CAN, a coalition of local health and wellness organizations, states that “communities built to empower residents to be physically active will decrease their health care costs.” Because these reduced costs translate into lower health insurance premiums for public and private employers, all Stevens Point residents, even those who do not ride bicycles, realize a financial benefit from our BFC status.
Dave Cieslewicz, Executive Director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, in his address to the Wisconsin Bike Summit last month, said, “A city that’s built for bicycling is built for living.” He should know, since he is also the former mayor of Madison, a gold-level BFC. This simple statement captures the essence of how a city can attract people and the businesses that want to hire them.
Our recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community is more than a reflection of our civic values. The BFC program is a recipe for economic growth. This is why it matters that Stevens Point earned a bronze BFC award and why we should strive for silver or gold.
A transcript of these and my past comments to Common Council are on my website, PokyPedalingStevensPoint.org, under the Speak Your Poky menu bar item. My website also has the full text of that November 6 Journal article.
Thank you for listening.