Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 22nd, 2007 at 6:00 am
Until the whole world shares our bike-friendly fantasies, it’s up to us to show people the way. This advocacy can take many forms, including the good, old-fashioned, well-mannered letter.
Jessica Roberts is a pro at writing such letters. She’s had many of them published in newspapers and probably hundreds sent to various bureaucrats and elected officials during her tenure as the BTA’s policy advocate.
She now works at Alta Planning and she’s still writing great letters.
The other day she was disappointed in the bike racks at her local drug store so she sent the management a letter. I thought it was something we could all learn from.
Here’s the letter along with a photo she attached to it.
To Whom It May Concern:
Today I arrived at your store to make a purchase by bicycle. I was dismayed to find one of your two bicycle racks entirely blocked by a plant display (see photo, right). As you can imagine, I felt less than welcome at your store, much like your car-driving customers would have felt unwelcome if half of the car parking spots were blocked.
You may not be aware of it, but more and more Portlanders are choosing to ride a bicycle for transportation, including your customers. Over 10% of work trips in Southeast Portland are made by bicycle, and many more local errands are done by bike. Bicycle usage in Portland increased by 18% last year, and continues to rise. Many of your current and future customers ride a bicycle, and they count on being able to find a convenient and available parking spot at your business.
If you continue to send the message that cyclists are unwelcome customers, they will take their business elsewhere. On the other hand, a little effort to welcome cyclists will go a long way.
Please respond to let me know what action you will take to ensure that the bike racks stay clear for the use of your cycling customers.
CC: Evan Manvel, Executive Director, Bicycle Transportation Alliance
Roger Geller, City of Portland Bicycle Coordinator
Thanks for writing that letter Jessica.
I hope it inspires more people to make their concerns known in a similarly considerate, constructive, and encouraging way.