Belfast businesses are cashing in on the city’s growing bike culture by signing up to a new cyclist loyalty scheme which offers discounts and rewards to customers arriving on two wheels.
Sustrans has launched a new cyclist loyalty scheme called ‘Pedal Perks’ in east Belfast to encourage more people to cycle to local shops and cafes in the area and are calling on all business owners to join the scheme
The initiative is part of the €4.4m CHIPS project, which aims to to reduce car traffic and promote sustainable transport, such as cycling on the Comber Greenway to commuters and local residents.
Businesses signing up to the Pedal Perks scheme will benefit from having their products and services promoted to around 10,000 people who work in organisations along the Newtownards Road/ Comber Greenway corridor.
With major funding from the EU, Belfast was chosen as one of several sites across North West Europe for the programme whose goal is to tackle high levels of air pollution by encouraging cycling and public transport instead of car journeys.
Cyclists are good for business
There is wide-ranging evidence of the value of cyclists to retailers and business. Customers not arriving by car visit more frequently and spend more over the course of a month. A UK government survey found that cycle parking delivers five times higher retail spend than the same area of car parking per square metre.
Pamela Grove-White, from Sustrans explained: “People not cars spend money. Making retail areas more accessible for people on foot or by bike boosts business. The pedestrianisation of York city centre for example increased turnover of local businesses by up to 30%. Pedal Perks will have the double impact of benefiting local shops and improving the environment.”
“ There are huge opportunities for business from cyclists. ”
The scheme was launched at S.D. Bells tearoom on the Upper Newtownards Road with the help of proprietor Robert Bell and Colin Neill, CEO of Hospitality Ulster.
Robert Bell, from S.D. Bells said: “S.D. Bells has been trading in this very location for 130 years. Back then, our customers arrived on foot, by bike, on horseback or by horse-drawn tram. My how things have changed! While we have plenty of room for parking at Bell's Junction, our reliance on the car is becoming unsustainable, so we should do anything we can do to support the local cyclist.”
Colin Neill, CEO of Hospitality Ulster said: “There are huge opportunities for business from cyclists. A few members of the hospitality sector have cottoned on to the benefits of cycling to their business but I think there are still people who haven’t realised the value of cyclists as a segment to cater for. Every cycling club, for example, will stop for coffee or go for something to eat.”
People who cycle should look out for the green ‘Pedal Perks’ stickers which will be on display in windows of participating businesses. Help us spread the word and give us your feedback by tweeting your experiences with #pedalperks
Retailers, cafes or other businesses in east Belfast and beyond who wish to sign up should contact Pamela in Sustrans.
 Sustrans (2006, 2011, 2013) Retail Vitality Surveys
 Department for Transport (2016) Value of Cycling
 Walkanomics (2012) Walkanomics [online]