Apparently we missed catching Lance Armstrong roaming around NAHBS last weekend, where the builders are celebrities and the cyclists are the fans. Lance is going to earn a whole new legion of fans as he gets into the commuter cycle business. The Austin American Statesman reports
that Lance is opening an 18,000 square foot retail bike shop called Mellow Johnny's (apparently after his Tour de France nickname) in his hometown, Austin, Texas.
To emphasize the significance of getting Joe Average into cycling, project partner Bart Knaggs was quoted as saying:
"If you're a commuter, you're just as important to us as the state champion on a road bike."
To which Armstrong added, "Potentially, more important."
This spells good news for the commuter cycling movement in general and certainly bicycle advocates in Austin have to be thrilled. Wow, 18,000 square feet of mega-store-sized retail space may be more retail space than all of the other bike shops in Austin combined. Could this be the equivalent of having the REI (Costco or Walmart!) of bicycle stores move into your neighborhood? I see Mellow Johnny franchises on the horizon...
Regardless the retail market implications, addressing the new cyclist or returning cyclist thoughtfully is paramount. Joe and Jane Average should have recreational and commuting options which are comfortable and require no special regalia. The NAHBS show highlighted the art of the bicycle and celebrated the builder. Where do we in our industry celebrate and serve the everyday or novice rider? Most trade shows focus on technology. We have created a culture of object worship. I prefer to liken the bicycle to a toaster. Not that it can't and shouldn't be beautiful , but that it is a simple conveyance, an appliance which serves our daily needs. In order for bicycle use to once again (anyone remember the 1890's
) proliferate amongst the masses, we need to celebrate the utility and joy which can be found in everyday bicycle use.
To that extent, I would like to celebrate some of the people who came by to play with us at the shop today, as well they brought their friends and family along.
Laura McMullan, editor of Oh! Baby Buy Products
Anne, co-author of Car Free Days
. We will look forward to sometime meeting her husband Tim and sharing laughs and rants about our ever chubbier "bicycle advocate" mayor.