Before beginning my series of profiles on bicycle-oriented businesses, I possessed a rudimentary idea of what bikes could – and did – do for business-owners, employees, and for biking in general. It was a nebulous, poorly-formed amoeba of understanding. Coming from a purely road racing background, I had never really given it much more than a passing thought. Of course I was always glad to see businesses that catered to cyclists in some way, and when I noticed a company making use of bikes in their business model I was sure to give them a mental high-five, but that was the extent of my experience. That original idea of mine has filled out greatly in these past two months, and my tiny amoeba of understanding has evolved into a multicellular organism of living, breathing knowledge.
From the integral core of a business model, to an important asset, to a valuable customer base, to a central mode of transportation, and all points between – bikes are a veritable swiss army knife in the economic world. And the value placed upon them extends well beyond the superficial. Everyone I have met during the creation of this series of stories, from CEOs of bike-oriented businesses to entry-level employees who bike commute every day, is extremely passionate about bicycles and their benefits.
And we are a somewhat disparate group of folks, us bike nuts. Roadies, mountain bikers, downhillers (you dudes are crazy), commuters, cyclocrossers, triathletes – the list goes on. While we sometimes intermingle – some roadies also ride mountain, some triathletes also commute, et cetera – I think that as a whole we all too often neglect to consider the business aspect. I certainly used to. As boring as the word may sound, “economics” is important, and while our local bike shop is a second home for many of us, there is an entire world of bike-oriented economics beyond it. The more we discover these bike-oriented businesses and support them – through our patronage, our dollars and our word of mouth – the more successful they will be. And thus the more they will be able to support the cause most important to us all – making our city as bike-friendly as possible.
Bikes simply put: you can make money with them, you can save money with them, you can better the environment with them, and you can save your health and sanity with them. Bikes make sense.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my summer here at the Bicycle Coalition and the time spent writing the Bicycles are Business series. Thank you for joining me in the ride, and happy biking!