5 Ways to Foster the Cycling Community
Bicycle retailers are on the front lines of growing ridership
Words by PeopleForBikes
Creating and marketing safe, convenient places to ride isn’t just good for the community, it also boosts a bicycle retailer’s bottom line. Sales increase when cities make streets, paths and trails better for people on bikes. In fact, we know that retail sales through the Independent Bicycle Dealer channel are nearly double the average in cities with good bike networks—communities that have better places to ride have more people who ride and more people who buy bikes and gear. We’ve created a detailed guide for retailers to help facilitate both better biking and better business. This guide focuses on five ways to make a real difference.
Here are some things every retailer can do to grow ridership:
Speak up when your community is discussing building bike lanes and trails. Connect with local advocates, show up when public meetings are being held.
Engage with other businesses to connect biking to the local economy. As a business owner and community leader, you have an important voice in how local projects and funding are prioritized.
Encourage your customers to get involved. Give your customers opportunities to contribute their voice, time and money to support biking in your community. Together, you’ll magnify your influence. And you’ll win your customers’ loyalty.
Get new people on bikes. When your customers feel comfortable in your bike shop, they will continue to ride—and to shop with you. Offer Maintenance 101 classes, host events for women, trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and intersex individuals, and sponsor local cycling events geared at getting the whole family riding.
Help your (new and not so new) customers ride more.
There are 25-35 million Americans who ride their bikes just a few times per year. We’re launching a new app to help more people feel comfortable on bikes, and to help retailers better serve their customers. Ride Spot aims to get more people riding, and keep them riding.
The biggest barriers that prevent people from getting on a bike are:
Not knowing where to ride
Not knowing who to ride with
Not feeling confident when riding
The Ride Spot app helps overcome these common barriers so that more people feel like they belong on a bike.
Our platform addresses these barriers by working with bike shops, advocacy organizations and others to provide great, safe routes that are easy to navigate with the free app or a printed “Ride Card.” We provide people with turn-by-turn directions to get them from a local Ride Spot Affiliate (a bike shop, in most cases), out on a great ride. Retailers can set up events so that new riders can connect with riding buddies at a central location. With fun, safe routes, new riders will feel more comfortable exploring by bike.
Another barrier to biking is uncertainty. People might ask, “How do I change a flat?” or “What are the hand signals I should use while riding?” These are basic Bike Riding 101 questions, and for this barrier, the Ride Spot app offers a series of videos to help out with unexpected snags in a ride. These videos are simple, short, and easy to understand. They’ll walk you through how to change a tube, how to put your chain back on if it falls off, and general bike basics.
We encourage bicycle retailers to take advantage of our guide, to get involved with Ride Spot and to help make bicycling and business better in their community. Together, we can overcome the barriers to biking and get more people on bikes.
A version of this story was first published online by PeopleforBikes.