May 17 was Bike to Work Day across the LA County, and La Verne participated with its own Bike to Work Day Pit Stop, on Bonita. The stop was co-sponsored by the University of La Verne, the City of La Verne and the La Verne Bicycle Coalition.
In addition to the pit stop, the City of La Verne actively participated as an employer, encouraging its own employees to commute by bicycle. The City declared the day a casual day, held raffles, and helped staff the pit stop. And in fact, many of the City staff did ride their bikes to work. Several of the City Council members rode their bikes, or stopped by as well. It is encouraging to see the City actively supportive and leading by example.
La Verne is lucky enough to have great options for bicycling. On any given day there is at least one organized ride starting at/finishing at/ or using La Verne businesses as a destination. La Verne also hosts staging areas for two regionally popular mountain biking destinations. In fact, one of these (Bonelli Park) will the location for mountain biking in the 2028 Olympics, where world-class trails will be built.
It is common to see bicyclists at La Verne businesses. It’s also very common to see cars carrying bicycles at La Verne restaurants, stores, and gas stations, usually before or after rides. Although it is logical to assume La Verne receives economic benefit from being bicycle friendly, the benefit has never been studied or quantified.
Students in the Harvey Mudd Political Science Class “Bicycle Revolution” visited La Verne in March. After their visit, the students were broken into teams and given class projects. One of those projects was to study the Economic Benefit of Cycling to La Verne, with a focus on external spend brought into the City.
The students performed research through a variety of methods, including an online survey, visiting popular trailheads, visiting businesses and conducting literature research. The students used a very conservative approach, likely underestimating the final number by a significant amount. For example, the study excluded cyclist that visit less than once a week. On April 26, 2018 the students presented their project to the La Verne Bicycle Coalition with City Council Member Muir Davis in attendance as well.
The students found that cyclist spent $2.4m while visiting with their bikes, and 3/4 of the cyclists are not residents of La Verne. They also identified steps that can be taken to further grow this revenue (such as bike lanes, signage, and outreach). During the group discussion, it was agreed that because the current number had been achieved with no focused effort, recognizing the opportunity and taking simple steps would likely grow the number significantly.
At a time when local cities are struggling to cut cost or grow revenue, La Verne has a unique opportunity. The Harvey Mudd student project helps quantify the opportunity, providing an economic justification for becoming more aggressive in encouraging and welcoming cyclists.