An expert on how to make North American communities more bicycle friendly says there are a number of ways both the private and public sector in Canmore can make the town more bike friendly and thus increase tourism.
April Economides, president of Green Octopus Consulting, has been to Canmore twice and during her most recent visit she met with enthusiastic members of the business community to come up with ideas to make the town more bike friendly.
With the input and her own expertise on the subject, Economides is preparing an action plan which she said will focus on easy and inexpensive initiatives that can be undertaken immediately.
“Taking the ideas I heard from business, tourism, and civic stakeholders and combining them with best practices from other Canadian and U.S. towns, I'm creating an initial action plan to help Canmore become more bike-friendly,” she said. “It will be a launching-off point for the town, not a static plan.”
She said more people on bikes translates into more customers for local businesses, whether they are residents or tourists.
“Converting some existing car-driving trips by residents into bicycle trips opens up car parking, decreases car traffic, and makes roads safer for all users – pedestrians, bicyclists, and car drivers and passengers alike,” Economides said. “It's taxpayer efficient, as bicycling brings less wear and tear to roads, and bike infrastructure and parking takes significantly less money to build and maintain. Bicyclists also travel at human scale speed and notice and patronize more businesses they pass, compared to car drivers.”
Bike tourism is also very much on the rise and lucrative to cater to, according to Economides, who said bike tourists have free time and money and are looking for where to spend it.
“They tend to spend more money than car tourists, particularly in small towns. Canmore is an ideal bike tourist destination because of its location in the beautiful Rockies and near Banff, near an international airport, and on the Legacy Trail,” she said.
At a Canmore Business and Tourism Learn at Lunch event in April, Economides said there was significant enthusiasm from the business and tourism community along with a number of ideas on making Canmore more bike friendly. She said the community wants more welcoming bike routes from the Legacy Trail into the downtown core, across the highway at several points and connecting to Elevation Place.
Another idea is to provide recreational cyclists, who don't carry locks because of the extra weight, free bike lock loans while they eat at local cafés and restaurants.
“Perhaps most intriguing is the overarching idea to make and market Canmore as the most bike-friendly town in Canada,” Economides said. “This wouldn't be outrageously difficult or expensive, actually, and would bring big health and economic benefits to the community.”
She added several Canmore accommodation providers already provide free bikes to guests and she would love to see all Canmore hotels do so.