Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Bicycle Benefits connects cyclists with local businesses

Posted on 24 April 2017 by calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Everyone knows the health benefits of riding a bicycle instead of driving a car, but did you know biking can save you money on coffee, beer, and even garden supplies? Bicycle Benefits is a national program that’s gaining traction in the Twin Cities, thanks to the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition (MBC).

Alex Tsatsoulis Minneapolis Bicycle CoalitionAlex Tsatsoulis (photo right; photo by Margie O’Loughlin) runs the Bicycle Benefits program, as well as being MBC’s Director of Development and Communications. He wears a lot of hats or, more appropriately, helmets, promoting safe cycling and new ways to make connections around the sport.

Here’s how it works. A cyclist buys a $5 Bicycle Benefits sticker from a participating business. Attach the sticker to your helmet or, if you choose not wear a helmet, carry the sticker with you when you bike to a participating business. Each participating business offers a discount of their choice. For instance, Peace Coffee at 3262 Minnehaha Ave. S. offers $.50 off a cup of coffee or tea, or $.75 off if you bring your own mug. The sticker is a one-time purchase, good for the life of your helmet.

Some of the other area businesses participating at this time are the Repair Lair (3304 E. Lake St.), Dogwood Coffee (4023 E. Lake St.), Mother Earth Gardens (3738 42nd Ave. S.), Grande Ole Creamery (4737 Cedar Ave.), Blackbird’s Music Store (3445 Cedar Ave. S.), Birchwood Cafe (3311 E. 25th St.), Cafe Racer (2929 E. 25th St.), and Skol Liquors (2500 27th Ave. S.). Of course, Bicycle Benefits hopes this list will continue to grow as more bikers and more businesses join in.

Some participating businesses have the stickers for sale, but supplies may be limited. To identify a participating business, look for a Bicycle Benefits decal in the storefront window, and/or a small stand-up sign near the cash register. A list of participating businesses can be found by visiting www.bicyclebenefits.org.

Interested business owners should consider that the program benefits are mutual. Joining up isn’t going to be a huge moneymaker for business owners, nor is it going to save bikers a fortune, but it will strengthen the connection between business owners and the cyclists who choose to support their bike-friendly establishments.

MBC is sponsoring a series of “Joy Rides” this summer on the second Tuesday of each month. None of the rides is more than 10 miles long, all ability levels are welcome, and Tsatsoulis said, “The pace will be a slow roll.” The ride will usually start in a Minneapolis park, and proceed by bike trail to a Bicycle Benefits participating businesses.

Scheduled Joy Rides are:
• May 9: Venture North Bike and Coffee Shop, 1830 Glenwood Ave. Finish at Anelace Coffee, 2402 Central Ave. NE.
• June 13: Fair Oaks Park, 200 E. 24th St. Finish at Barbette, 1600 W. Lake St.
• July 11: Matthews Park, 2318 29th Ave. Finish at Grand Ole Creamery, 4737 Cedar Ave. S.
• Aug. 8: Boom Island Park, 724 Sibley St. NE. Finish at Espresso Royale, 1229 Hennepin Ave.
• Sept. 10: Loring Park, 1382 Willow St. Finish at 612 Brew, 945 Broadway St. NE.

Bikers can meet up as early as 5:30pm at the starting location; the rides will roll out at 6pm.
May is Minneapolis Bike Month. With the support of MBC’s classes and events, this a great opportunity to try biking for the first time, or to step up your commitment to being a biker:
• Sat., May 6: Women/Trans/Femme Day
• Wed., May 10: Bike to School Day
• Fri., May 19: Twin Cities Bike to Work Day
• Sat., May 27: Family Bike to Parks Day

And, during the month of May, MBC will offer a range of customizable courses from experienced instructors. You host and promote your event; they show up and teach the skills.

An example is a class called Transit and Biking. A transit expert from Metro Transit will explain how to use Metro Transit services, and how to incorporate bicycling into transit trips. Topics include planning a trip, fares and how to pay them, reading maps and schedules, and more. Presentations can be tailored for any group; each group member gets a free Metro Transit coupon. There is no cost to participants for this class.

Check the website at www.mplsbike.org for a full list of available classes and ride support during Minneapolis Bike Month.

A Bicycle Benefits sticker is included in the $25 annual MBC membership. Show your support for cycling by becoming a member, and deepen your engagement with the Minneapolis biking community.

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