For most cyclists, riding a bike is its own reward. Ian Kleptar, founder and director of Bicycle Benefits, is trying to enhance that with a new program where a sticker gets riders discounts and deals in cities across the country.
For the last seven years, Ian Kleptar has lived out of his bike trailer, pedaling his be-stickered Windsor bicycle from bike shops and cafes to grocery stores and bookshops in cities across the country, creating incentives for bikers and businesses to make communities more bike-centric.
It’s a crazy premise, we know. But look at the results: More than 1,000 businesses are already onboard in cities around the U.S.
The concept is a simple rewards program: Riders purchase a $5 sticker, slap it on their helmet, show it at participating locations, and receive discounts.
Businesses purchase a startup package that includes a sheet of stickers and program signage. 100% percent of the revenue, Kleptar says, is reinvested into the “bike mission.”
“Folks have too many reasons to drive everywhere, including free parking, convenience, etc. They need encouragement to set down the car keys, and a culture needs to develop that accounts for the negative implications that heavy automobile traffic has on the local environment, overall community, and personal health.”
Bicycle Benefit Cities
Currently, Bicycle Benefits has caught on in Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and handful of cities in between. Through his efforts and that of a small cadre of volunteers, Kleptar has signed on 1,375 businesses and distributed over 100,000 stickers, and he is still growing.
Kleptar, a.k.a The Muffin Man, is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, spreading the gospel of stewardship, community and personal wellness through the joy of cycling.
He pitches tents and stays with willing hosts via WarmShowers while on the road – usually nine to ten months out of the year – making each new city he sees his home. At the end of the year, he gives away his ride and hitchhikes to Alta, UT, where he works at ski resorts, carves some slopes, and recharges his batteries and his coffers.
The child of a bike-activist mother, Kleptar has charged ahead with numerous initiatives of his own, each aimed at getting people comfortable and excited with their bikes: the Muffin Exchange, Bike Pumps Around Town, Bike! Bingo, and Bicycle Buddy to name a few.
Kleptar wants everyone who hears about his programs to just try exchanging the convenience of their car for a bike for one week, to see how it feels. And for those who already commute by bike, he wants them to up the ante and try to convince someone else to hop on the saddle. As he sees it, “The world isn’t going to change for the better by us dropping the same tune as we did yesterday, but rather by us playing a sweet new jam.”
Head over to Bicycle Benefits to get a discount sticker for your helmet, learn about businesses in your area that participate, or enroll your own business in the program.
It’s one more way to get people to leave the cars at home and enjoy another benefit of cycling.