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Green Pride and the bike shop:
a match made in heaven


It’s time for the 6000 independent bike shops to become instruments of change.  They are the critical mass waiting to happen and it’s their responsibility to begin a bicycle revolution. 

At a time when there’s unprecedented and widespread support for all things green, and in which cycling plays a key role, bike shops own the most immediate economic advantage.  They will sell and repair a lot more bikes if they merely allow their parking lots to also be used for commuter bike parking. 

It starts with an ongoing advertising campaign by the major bike manufacturers Trek, Specialized, Giant, Cannondale and others throughout the industry. Some are fierce competitors but playing nice with each other and tagging their advertising with a bike parking initiative will sink quickly into the minds of a beleaguered public.

This 21century American public wants to ride but face problems that need to be addressed. A secure place to lock a bike is a giant first step, simple enough to create and the bike industry should take the lead.

Tagging advertising with a universal logo adds no money to their budget while underwriting a blanket commuter theft policy and paying the premium for any of their participating dealers is a minor investment that will generate more business.

Escalating fuel prices, concern for the environment, better health and a host of other all-good reasons make the simplicity of a safe place to park a bicycle a match made in heaven.

Besides, it’s their duty to themselves, their dealers and our nation’s well-being. It’s the personification of enlightened self-interest.

For the participating dealer bringing riders to their door means more business and in many cases it will create a need for the welcome side effect of multi-modal transportation.

Free bike parking at bike shops for commuters/shoppers is not a new idea but as a nationwide movement it’s big news to media with a voracious appetite for feel good down home stories at a time of great national concern. 

There are a welter of issues we face as a nation that throwing money at will not fix. Most immediately, cleaner air and healthier citizens are issues the not so humble bicycle will work wonders with.

In our region where the weather is less than hospitable for months at a time municipalities won’t spend taxpayer dollars to provide bicycle parking and other amenities for cyclists until they see a groundswell and know that economic benefits will result.

What also needs urgent doing is a line of bicycle clothing that looks good off the bike. Many of the most skilled cyclists perfectly capable of riding to and from shopping or work won’t get on a bike without proper gear. Today’s cycling gear is made for performance and off the bike it looks out of place or worse.

It presents a challenge to clothing manufacturers who currently don’t see a market but the latest fashion and looking good are always in style.  Create it and they will buy.
submitted by Dave Balkin on 04/16/08
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