- Ray Keener, a long time bike industry sales consultant, wrote up his creative ideas for Commute By Bike on how bike retailers can capitalize on increased interest in bike commuting. Keener writes for BRaIN and runs the Bicycle Leadership Conference. Visit his website GrowthCycle.
Ray also recently developed the Selling Coasting retail training tool. Selling Coasting trains bicycle retail employees to encourage new riders with bikes equipped with Shimano’s Coasting drivetrain. There are now 19 Coasting bike models from seven manufacturers.
Think in terms of eliminating barriers to entry. When nearly all Americans contemplate riding a bike to work, their first thought: “I can’t do that because…” Take away the because!
Have a staff meeting and make a list of all the reasons regular folks don’t ride to work more often. Help your people realize what these barriers are. They may not have thought of many of them, because they’ve already figured out ways around them (sponge baths, panniers/trailers, lights, fenders, knowing how to fix a flat and make minor repairs, etc.)
Display a built-up commute bike with all the accessories (rack, fenders, panniers, lights, kickstand, lock) and a big sign: Let Us Make YOUR Bike a Commuter! Most “new” commuter cyclists don’t know that you can make them a bike any way they want it. Don’t limit yourself to displaying commute bikes built by the manufacturers, let folks know that ANY bike can be a commute bike!
Cargo trailers! Get a Burley Nomad and fill it with groceries, a change of work clothes, a laptop carrier, etc. Trailers are a great answer to the barrier: “I can’t carry all my stuff.” Not a B.O.B., the Burley is way better for novices. Lighter, more stable, more visible, easier to load, more weatherproof, easier to walk with.
Make sure you have route maps on hand and prominently displayed. Again, most novices only think in terms of where they drive. “I don’t know how to get from work to home on my bike” should never keep folks from riding. Offer a link on your website: Route Finder, like MapQuest. Where do you live, where do you work, let us show you how to get there!
Get involved with your city’s bike program! Make yourself available for meetings. Push for better bike routes and transitions in your city. Make sure your city bike people are aware of Bikes Belong and all the sources for Federal funding. Pester your traffic engineers to attend bike training conferences. Don’t just complain, get involved. YOU can make a difference!
Do commute clinics at your largest local employers. Don’t wait for them to call you, call them! Focus on the common entry barriers. Take a fully loaded commute bike and demonstrate what everything does. Hand out route maps and discount coupons. Work with facilities managers to provide bike racks and showers. Make your own market!