Tag: bikes

Slow and Steady Wins the Race for Local Bike Shop Owner

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Photo by Raymond Bolger.
Alex Obriecht. Photo by Raymond Bolger.

Courtesy Bmore Media – Fifteen years ago, entrepreneur Alex Obriecht was staring into a fiscal abyss.

Based on his calculations, the owner of Race Pace Bicycles would have to shutter his retail bike stores in a year if the Virginia chain Bikes USA continued to undercut him in price.

It was just a matter of how much money they were willing to throw to break smaller companies such as Race Pace to build a national chain.

Fortunately for Obriecht and his 90 employees, Bikes USA was forced to throw in the towel first. It went belly up in 1999 after running out of financing options. Race Pace, meanwhile has since expanded to a total of five Greater Baltimore stores, which pull in between $8 million and $10 million a year in sales. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News ranks the 35-year-old business as one of the top 100 bike shops in the U.S.

How Will a “Bike Beltway” Change Towson Traffic?

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Imagine a world in which students could bike from Towson University to the Towson Town Center to Goucher College without dodging traffic or contending with angry cars. If the proposed “bike beltway” around the Towson area moves forward, that world might become a reality.

Balitmore Bike-Artist Makes the City His Canvas

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Sometimes, the internet is really cool. Take, for example, these maps — or are they paintings? — by Baltimore resident Michael Wallace. Fusing GPS technology, detailed city maps, his bike, and a sense of whimsy, Wallace creates what Nate Berg, writing in the Atlantic Cities blog, calls “a city-scaled and semi-crude Etch-a-Sketch drawing [with] Wallace [as] the pinpoint drawing the line.” Except that, unlike Etch-a-Sketch art, Wallace’s “drawings” are often miles wide, and take a few hours to complete.

So far, Wallace has come up with 120 ride/drawings, most of them through his Southeast Baltimore neighborhoods. Some highlights have included sailboats, trains, monsters, and a level of Donkey Kong. Baltimore’s gridded layout makes some of the more complex drawings a challenge, but he’s learned how to shape lines by taking turns at either wide or narrow angles. Patterson Park’s wide open spaces also help with the creative process. Still, Wallace — a middle school teacher by day — knows he must look a little kooky to other cyclists, since he ends up having to do a lot of zigging, zagging, and doubling back.

Once school is out this summer, Wallace will have more time to devote to completing his next batch of rides. He’s got several already sketched out, including one with an ambitious Crocodile Hunter-theme. Check out some of Wallace’s other inventive bike sketches below:

Baltimore Expands Its Bike Trails

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Work has begun to build a bike path that will run along the Jones Falls Trail from the Inner Harbor to Penn Station where it will hook up with an already extant trail that takes cyclists to Druid Hill Park and the Maryland Zoo. Not only that, but this new trail will complete Baltimore’s piece of the East Coast Greenway, an ambitious network of bike paths that run from Maine to Florida.

In a time when it’s hard to find a cultural development that doesn’t threaten to ruin our attention spans or harm the environment, moving a little closer to completing a bike trail that spans the Eastern seaboard strikes me as the quaintest form of progress. It’s almost Emersonian.

Maryland’s greenway coordinator, Greg Hinchliffe, is hoping the new car-free path will inspire bicyclists of all skill levels get out and ride, and even pave the way for a Baltimore Bike Share program.

The trail is scheduled to be completed around April 2013.

Baltimore Bike Commuters Up 233 Percent!

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The Atlantic wanted to know if commuting by bike was catching on as much as it seemed to be… so they surveyed 55 U.S. cities to see if there really were more people regularly riding their bikes to work. Yes, it turns out, by an average increase of 70 percent.

But the jump in bike commuters was even more intense in some cities, Baltimore included. Okay, so only 1 percent of Baltimore commuters cycled to work in 2009 — but that’s up a whopping 233 percent from the .3 percent who biked in 2000. That puts us fairly far behind bike-happy cities like Portland, Oregon (5.8 percent bike commuters) and Minneapolis (3 percent), D.C. (2.2 percent), and Philly (2.2 percent), but well ahead of many other metro areas; only 22 of the 55 cities studied cracked the 1 percent mark.

Do you ride your bike to work? Why/why not?

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