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West Town 'Bike-Friendly' Business District Gets June 9 Launch

 The West Town Chamber of Commerce is launching a "bike-friendly" business district next month.
The West Town Chamber of Commerce is launching a "bike-friendly" business district next month.
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DNAinfo/Dave Newbart

WEST TOWN — The West Town Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday sent out a call for businesses to join its "bike-friendly" business district program, which will include discounts to cyclists starting in June.

Bike-friendly districts, which have been launched elsewhere in places such as Los Angeles, generally hope to drive cyclists to local businesses while promoting safe riding.

The districts often include discounts for safe cyclists, bike education events along with supportive measures such as new bike parking or repair stations.

The chamber hopes to have at least 20 businesses signed up by the time it launches the program on June 9, ahead of Chicago Bike Week, according to chamber spokeswoman Kace Wakem.

"It provides different discounts and services to the people who are avid bikers in our neighborhood, and it promotes a kind of shop local feel," Wakem said.

The thinking goes that cyclists pass by storefronts slower than cars and are therefore more likely to notice a business and stop in, and a bike-friendly district further serves to attract "a key customer group," according to the chamber's email to businesses.

To create the district, the West Town chamber is partnering with the Active Transportation Alliance along with the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, which also recently announced plans to create a bike-friendly business district.

A form for businesses to fill out includes a space for companies to add a cyclist discount, which would be offered to bike riders who show their helmets.

With protected bike lanes already in place along parts of Milwaukee Avenue, Wakem pointed out that some of the infrastructure is already in place, making West Town a natural fit for the bike-friendly theme.

The chamber hopes the district will include promotions, special events and marketing to encourage cyclists to spend more time in the neighborhood.