Transcripts

From A To B: Bike Shop Owners See Big Returns From Capital Bikeshare

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:10
I'm Rebecca Sheir, and welcome back to "Metro Connection." With the 4th of July coming up in less than a week, today we're bringing you an hour of stories and interviews all about the notion of independence. In just a few minutes, we'll find out what independence can mean on the dating front. And later in the show, we'll hear all about independence as it relates to one of America's most treasured expatriate artists.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:30
First, though, how about independent businesses? With the advent of Capital Bikeshare, many small bike shops began to worry the program will ran them out of business. Now that Washingtonians have been bike sharing for almost two years, have those fears come true? We'll find out on our weekly transportation segment, From A to B.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:59
Martin Di Caro headed to several bike shops around town to see whether the worries about Bikeshare were justified and how the culture of cycling is changing here in the nation's capital.

MR. MARTIN DI CARO

00:01:09
Russell Martin treats his bike like his child.

MR. RUSSELL MARTIN

00:01:12
The Trek 7.6 FX. It's a nice fast hybrid bike.

CARO

00:01:16
That sounds kind of fancy.

MARTIN

00:01:17
It's, yeah, it's my baby.

CARO

00:01:18
Your baby?

MARTIN

00:01:19
Yeah. I love it. Now, it's kind of an extension of me.

CARO

00:01:22
The 24-year-old sales manager at a boutique hotel company meets me in Foggy Bottom on his way to work. He commutes on a bicycle every day and got hooked by trying Capital Bikeshare right after the program started.

MARTIN

00:01:33
I ended up selling my car and buying a couple more bicycles, and I haven't looked back since.

CARO

00:01:39
So you have how many bikes now?

MARTIN

00:01:40
I guess I have three now. I'm looking for a fourth.

CARO

00:01:43
Had D.C. bike shops known the Russell Martins of the world would treat Capital Bikeshare like a gateway drug, they might not have been so nervous. Inside Bicycle Space on 7th and L Streets Northwest, business is brisk. But owner Erik Kugler once wondered if Bikeshare would take away potential customers.

MR. ERIK KUGLER

00:02:01
In the back of my mind, there was that concern.

CARO

00:02:04
What's happened since?

KUGLER

00:02:06
Well, what we've seen is an explosion culture.

CARO

00:02:09
He sees more bikes on the streets, drivers acting more courteously. And, he says, money people might spend filling their gas tanks is now being spent in the shop and in his neighborhood.

KUGLER

00:02:18
You see new restaurants open up, cafes, knit shops, small businesses like ours. These people are great employers also. We employ 18 people here. We're in the business of culture change.

CARO

00:02:30
The Bikeshare program's shortcomings have also brought in more customers. The bikes are a bit heavy, not built for speed, plus the program is so popular it's users often cannot find a bike when they need one or can't find a dock with an open space to return them.

MS. KRISTIN FRONTIERA

00:02:42
When I started riding Bikeshare, there was a phase where I would see another person on a Bikeshare and we'd be like, hey, Bikeshare, this is awesome. And now I see them and I'm like, I need to pedal faster. I need to get to the dock before them.

CARO

00:02:54
Kristin Frontiera is a 25-year-old, recently returned Peace Corps volunteer who just bought her own bike on Craigslist for $40. She brings it to Kugler's shop for repairs and to buy other stuff anyone new to the bicycling scene would need.

FRONTIERA

00:03:06
I'm having work done on it. I'm putting more money into the bike than I spent on it. And I'm spending all of that money here. And then I'm going to buy all the stuff, like I need a basket and a lock and I need lights.

CARO

00:03:23
Dan, how are you?

MR. DAN WEST

00:03:24
I'm doing all good.

CARO

00:03:25
Across town at City Bikes in Adams Morgan, the story is the same, Bikeshare is credited for more business not less.

WEST

00:03:31
Yeah, there were some concerns that it might hurt business for local neighborhood shops. But there had been also kind of hope that you get more and more people cycling.

CARO

00:03:41
Dan West is the marketing manager in a shop that's been selling two-wheelers for 25 years.

WEST

00:03:46
I'm getting more and more of these people that have loved using the Bikeshare and now are saying, wait, I want something that's my own. I want something that's custom-designed for the kind of riding that I'm doing.

CARO

00:03:58
So after immersing myself in this culture, I felt the eyes of the bicycling world glaring down on me and a Bikeshare dock just a couple blocks away. All right, these are supposed to be so fun to ride. So I'm going to give one a try and on the road.

CARO

00:04:17
Whoo. Speed up. Oh. Hey, how are you? I'm with WAMU Radio. My name is Martin Di Caro. I'm trying out a Capital Bikeshare bike for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN

00:04:31
Very cool. I just bought this bike. It's a Jamis Sport.

CARO

00:04:35
What do you think of these bikes?

WOMAN

00:04:36
I think that the concept is really good. I've never ridden one, but I think it's a really cool concept. Yeah.

CARO

00:04:41
Actually easy to ride, you can't go very fast but that okay.

WOMAN

00:04:45
Cool. Do you mind if I try it?

CARO

00:04:46
See? Bicyclists are one big family. What could better testify the bicycling love than what Michael Samuelson did for his girlfriend Anna Walters. She fell for bicycling after using Capital Bikeshare and so he bought her a brand new bicycle.

MR. MICHAEL SAMUELSON

00:05:02
It was her birthday so that helped.

MS. ANNA WALTERS

00:05:03
Well, actually we went shopping together, buzzing the different shops around town and I did a lot of research online and, I don't know, I found this one and I knew that this is the one.

CARO

00:05:15
The one. She was talking about her bike, not her boyfriend. For now. I'm Martin Di Caro.

SHEIR

00:05:21
Have you become a regular cyclist since Capital Bikeshare came to town? We'd love to hear your story. You can reach us at metro@wamu.org.
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