Filling the Bike Shop Desert in GR

I am absolutely elated that Ada Bike Shop has purchased Fulton Heights Mower and Bike Repair and will be opening a satellite shop in the coming months at 1311 E Fulton near the Family Fare!  A grand opening is tentatively planned for sometime in the spring.

When I moved to Heritage Hill in 2006, one of the things that made bicycling and commuting more difficult was the lack of full service bicycle shops within easy riding distance. The two closest were Freewheeler on the NW side and Alger Cyclery near 28th and Buchanan. Both were about a 15-25 minute ride, depending on conditions.  Similar to the food desert many city residents live in, without access to a full service grocery store, Grand Rapids had a bike desert in much of the city.  Many of the other shops in Grand Rapids are between 5 and 7 miles away, and often located on busy 4-5 lane roads that aren’t very bicycle friendly.

lbs vs median income - before 2009
Local Bike Shops - Before 2009 vs Median Income
lbs vs median income - after 2009
Local Bike Shops - After 2009 vs Median Income
Local Bike Shops vs Population Density
Local Bike Shops vs Population Density

Why? Follow the money.

I created three maps.  The first shows full service bike shops prior to 2009, with a 2 mile radius surrounding each one. (I didn’t include The Motion Initiative on Godfrey because of their limited hours.)

The base map was created with the fantastic MAPAS application of GVSU’s Community Research Institute. The shading is for median income and darker is better, although the data from the 2000 census is getting old.

You’ll note a pretty big hole on the east side of Grand Rapids between Freewheeler, Alger Cyclery, Kentwood Cycling & Fitness, and Grand Rapids Bicycle Company.

The 2nd map, shows what it now looks like, with the addition of Commute Bicycle Shop on S. Division and the new Ada Bike Shop in Fulton Heights.

Dan Koert at Commute GR started with a bang and low overhead, selling a lot of used bicycles, some new, and a lot of parts, accessories, and repairs.  He was recently rewarded with the People’s Choice for Best New Business at the 2009 Neighborhood Business Awards.

The new Ada Bike Shop should do well serving the neighborhoods full of bicyclists that surround it and the affluent in EGR who were also in the bike desert.   Based on my talks with owner Jim Ippel last Tuesday, they are planning to do their best to continue to fix up some of the cheaper bikes that come in for repairs as well.

The third graphic shows population density.  The new shops added this year are within easy biking distance of some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the metro area (>5,922 people per square mile.)

Finally, I wanted to share a few photos of the new space on Fulton St.  These photos are from 12/2/09 (when it was 50F outside!!!)  and when I was back on Tuesday, there was a nice window display with some youth bicycles and the entire peg board had come down.  They were planning to paint the walls this week.  The snowblower repair side of the business was also in full swing, with about 15 of them lined up in the main shop area, and more in the garage.

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Author: Joshua Duggan

I love bicycling. I love Grand Rapids. Even though I'm not from here (I'm from Omaha, Nebraska), I've lived here over 10 years and Grand Rapids is my new home. I'm a commuter, endurance racer, mountain biker, bicycle tourist, tandem captain, fat biker, roadie, and gravel grinder who likes to ride his bike to an occasional brewery, taco stand, or ice cream shop.

1 thought on “Filling the Bike Shop Desert in GR”

  1. When I first read your post title, I thought, “What? Bike shop desert in GR? But there’s a TON of bike shops in GR!” Then I read you’re post, and I have to agree. There really are areas with no shops within a reasonable riding distance. And also most of the shops are on major, bike-unfriendly roads. For me, there’s the south location of Village Bike Shop about two miles away from my house, but it’s on busy and often construction clogged Kalamazoo. Near work is Kentwood Cycle, whose parking lot is terrible to get out of if you have to go left onto East Paris just yards from the 28th Street intersection.

    So, I’m excited that a new Ada Bike Shop branch is opening near you and filling in one of the gaps in town. If all these bike shops can thrive…how awesome is that for GR!

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