Bike Shops Are Struggling In The Midst Of A So-Called ‘Bike Boom’

Background Reading


Rapid Transit's owners announced that they plan to close the pair of shops in the next two months. © JULIA THIEL

Rapid Transit’s owners announced that they plan to close the pair of shops in the next two months. © JULIA THIEL


Just last fall a bicycle shop here in Chicago was threatening to close its doors because of a lack of government funding. What was even more disappointing was the fact that the supposedly large and active Urban Cycling Movement members of Chicago were unable to raise much money to meet the ‘funding gap’.

And then there is the velodrome on the South Side that is struggling to keep afloat. All of these ‘canaries in the mineshaft‘ are telling the real story of bicycling’s growth here in Chicago.

Rapid Transit Is A Landmark

We bought my wife’s first BikeE recumbent from this store. That was more than 20 years ago. Given all the bullshit about how great Chicago is now that we have bike lanes up the ting-yang you would think that cycling like micro brewing would be a growth industry. But frankly it isn’t.

We put our money where our values are.

You can literally trip over the number of brewpubs in the city and suburbs. And while you are riding your bike to visit as many as possible you can also trip over the cyclists wallowing in the gutter of the bike lane trying to compose themselves enough to find their way back home.

We value booze and beer far more than we do bicycles and the jobs that keeping them maintained requires. We would rather scrounge around for a beater bike that really does not service us well than purchase a suitable bike from Copenhagen Bikes in Wicker Park.

We test rode some of their bikes with the intent to come back and buy a couple of them, only to discover that the shop had ‘gone bust‘. Meanwhile the brewpubs in the same area are adding extra help to accommodate all the lushes that want to belly up to the bar for yet another round of poison.

Maybe the heavy metals used in compounding the inks being injected under the skin of so many hipsters are finally leeching into their feeble brains. I really dunno. What I do know is that there will perhaps soon be more bike lanes in place than bikes to ride in them. But most certainly it is clear that selling and servicing bikes is far more economically unsuitable than selling dope and other poisons.