We love bike shopsWe love bike shops.
A great bike shop does so much to contribute to a great neighbourhood and a strong and supportive cycling community.
Here are a few of the things the folks who own our awesome local bike shops do for us:
1. Donate bike bells and bike lights for bike parades. To be street legal, your bike needs to have a bell on it and front and rear lights when you're riding and it's darkish out. A friend of mine is thinking about starting a campaign with local bike shops to only sell bikes that include a bell and lights -- after all, a horn and lights are not upgrades when you buy a car. Knowing the awesome bike shop owners around here, I bet they'd jump on board. At the very least, I think they'd be open to putting up a poster letting customers know that bikes need bells and lights to be street legal.
2. Greet us with a smile. This is a small but significant gesture that I love. Sometimes we even get greeted by name and that is just awesome.
3. Treat the kids like they are valued customers. The other day Jasper needed a new helmet. As soon as we walked in to one of our favourite shops, the manager stopped what he was doing, looked right at Jasper with a big smile and said, "There's the big guy!" Some of the bike shops have toys for kids to play with. Others have dogs the kids can hang out with. The point is, they are family friendly spaces where children are welcome.
4. Participate in cycling festivals. Around here -- as in many cities -- the spring is full of bike festivals. And I am always impressed with the level of outreach and participation that local bike shops offer, even though it's their busiest season for bike sales and bike repair. Sometimes these folks even host their own bike festivals or vintage bike shows. Just because.
5. Lead group rides. Most of the folks who work in bike shops around here are fit enough to drop the rest of us on the first hill. But instead they are building a stronger racing community by leading group rides from their shops. Did I mention these rides are almost always free?
6. Give co-op students a chance to learn to be bike mechanics. Derek teaches at a vocational high school. One of his students really really wants to be a bike mechanic. Derek has given this student lots of opportunities to fix bikes with him at the school as part of the Outdoor Leadership Class, but to fulfill his dream, the student needed a co-op placement at an actual bike shop. First he worked at Cycle Salvation which is a local social enterprise where people can begin to gain work skills. And now this student is working in one of our favourite bike shops.
7. Sell us the bikes of our dreams. Sometimes that's the speediest, lightest racing bike around. Other times it's a sturdy cargo bike that turns a haggered parent into a happy load hauling mama.
8. Fix our bikes. Since Derek and the kids take care of almost all the repairs on our fleet, bike repair is not often something I outsource these days. But my friends tell me the service is fantastic.
9. Support us in our cycling advocacy projects. Whether that means speaking as a panellist or creating cycling education pamphlets or supporting local bike share projects or donating prizes at cycling events, these folks are strong partners all the time.
10. Repair bikes on local bike tours. Have you seen how fast these folks work? Next time you're on a bike tour and you're lined up to have a brake looked at or a shifter unstuck, just watch how fast they identify the problem and get you back on the road.
11. Lead the way in cycling advocacy. Our BIA has a Cycling Committee. I know, it's incredible. No wonder the neighbourhood is turning into a true cycling destination.
12. Love riding. For all the time they spend with bikes, you think they might get tired of them. But no. These folks are full of bike love. Fast bikes, slow bikes, winter bikes with fat tires, summer bikes with skinny tires, they love riding them.
So to all you wonderful, wonderful people working in and running our local bike shops -- Thanks for being so awesome. Thanks for always having time for us and for our kids. Thanks for keeping us on the road and encouraging other people to join us there. You are the best.
Got family biking stories to share? I always love to hear them. familiesonbikes[AT]momentumplanetDOTcom.