New initiative raises awareness of the purchase power of cyclists

A new website which tracks purchases made by cyclists in Kitchissippi ward is just one way to show how valuable cycling is to the local economy and community, according to Councillor Jeff Leiper.

The website, ibikeibuy.ca, was launched on June 26 by Leiper and local web developer David Hicks. Already, the website has documented that cyclists using the bike corral near the corner of Fairmont have spent over $3000 since the launch.

“This is a win for residents, merchants, and cyclists alike,” says Leiper.

The bike corral takes up space of one car. Do cyclist visits generate the same income for the neighbourhood as cars? This new project might help find some answers. File photo by Ted Simpson
The bike corral takes up space of one car. Do cyclist visits generate the same income for the neighbourhood as cars? This new project might help find some answers. File photo by Ted Simpson

The idea for the website came to Leiper after he asked residents via Twitter how he can show to the community that cyclists spend as much as customers who drive.

Leiper originally thought of a large Microsoft Excel spreadsheet where users can log and calculate their purchases but Hicks thought that a website would be much more effective and easier to set up.

“It was put together very quickly,” says Hicks. “(Cycling) is something that I do care about, so I thought ‘let’s just get this done.’ It’s a good cause that I support.”

According to Leiper’s online statement, promotion of ibikeibuy.ca – as well as cycling in Kitchissippi – will be displayed throughout the ward.

“Over the course of the summer, we’ll add more collateral to the kitchissippiward.ca web site such as videos from merchants touting the benefits of having a corral close by,” the statement read.

Last year, the city introduced bike corrals in three locations – two in Wellington Village – to accommodate bicycles by taking up one vehicle parking spot.

However, local merchants were concerned about the potential loss of business due to the loss of key parking spaces that could be used multiple times a day on Wellington Street.

“There was pushback from local merchants,” says Leiper. “They were upset the loss of a parking spot equated with loss of revenues.”

One corral on Wellington near Ross and Grange Avenues was removed shortly before the pilot project was scheduled to wrap up.

Both Leiper and Hicks say the website should not be considered as a formal and comprehensive survey, but rather as proof that cyclists support local business.

“You get the idea that cyclists are spending,” says Hicks.

One of these cyclists is Jeana Stubbert, who says she often makes purchases at Bridgehead by Fairmont and Wellington, the Hintonburg Public House, and the Mac’s convenience store while commuting on her bicycle.

“Since the website started, I have logged in (my purchases) and told another cyclist locking up this morning about the site,” she says.

Hicks would like to see the Wellington West Business Improvement Area get involved with the website and use it as a tool to see which businesses are gaining the most attention.

“(The website) would not just show how much you purchased, but where you purchased,” says Hicks.  The site also gives users the option to share their update on Twitter.

To cyclists in Kitchissippi, the website has already been a useful way to champion biking in the community and in the entire city.

“This is more evidence that Ottawa loves its bikes and wishes city hall would continue to do more to support safe cycling,” says Stubbert. “We count, we vote, we spend.”

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