Bike America in South Florida offers an incredible array of awesome bikes. But they also know how important it is to lock those bikes to a secure bicycle parking rack. That is why they decided to become a dealer/reseller for the Bike Rack Co.
Gary Mercado and Steve Barnes, the owners of Bike America, own shops in East Boca Raton, West Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Quiet Waters Park, Coral Springs, Sunrise and Pembroke Pines.
When you walk into one of their stores, unlike some other bike shops, you are immediately impressed with the cleanliness and sparkling array of all types of bikes, from Fatboys to Cannondales. They cover the bicycle gamut: road, mountain, cyclocross, commuter, comfort, cruiser, fitness, BMX and the hot new popular electric products.
“We have bikes for everybody,” said Steve.
Each employee wears a Bike America shirt and the bike repair area is up front, so you can see how well it is organized and the care the crew gives to each bicycle. All of that attention to detail gives visitors an impression of professionalism and pride in their work.
There’s also a complete selection of bicycle accessories and clothing for men, women and children. The company also offers bike repair and bike rentals. In addition, there’s a nice selection of helpful guides on their site – www.bikeam.com such as “How to Pick the Best Bike for You.”
Steve and Gary owned a hotel in Fort Lauderdale and after selling the hotel, started this chain of bicycle stores and repair centers.
According to Steve, the two are fitness buffs and “leisure cyclists” who always incorporated the health benefits of bicycling into their exercise regimen.
“Cycling is a fantastic way for anybody of any level to get fit and get moving,” he said.
The two also know the importance of bicycle parking. Bicycling is now growing as an activity around the country. In fact, some experts call bicycling the “new golf” now embraced by the large swell of retiring baby boomers with aging knees who want to stay fit and active.
As bikes fill the streets, more bicycle parking racks are required
While bicycling is booming, but Steve and Gary agreed there still seems to be a tremendous shortage of proper bicycle parking racks for the public. That’s why they are now offering bike racks from Bike Rack Co.
“There’s still an obvious need for an easy way to find bike security,” Steve noted.
Locking a bicycle, especially one that costs a few thousand dollars, to a tree or sign post is risky for bike owners for a number of reasons.
For one, there has been an upsurge in bicycle thefts by low-level criminals who now roam the streets looking to make a quick buck with a stolen bicycle. The FBI estimates more than 1 million bicycles are stolen every year.
To get to a bike, thieves have no problem cutting down a tree.
Clever crooks are also known to create “sucker” poles where they will dig up a sign that is a popular parking space for bikes. Then will then place the sign back into the ground loosely. An unsuspecting bicyclist will lock their bike and then walk away. The thieves wait anxiously around the corner, yank the pole out of the ground and then take off with the bike.
While in the hotel business, Steve said people would constantly come up to him and ask, “Where can I lock up my bike? Where is there a safe place?”
Bike America is a Bike Rack Co. reseller for Wave and U-Shaped bicycle parking racks that can accommodate up to 15 bicycles. They can also provide themed bicycle racks in any shape or with any artwork such as coffee cups, slices of pizza etc.
One item they are very excited about is the custom bike rack (see the Bike America custom bike rack above). With these custom and artistic bike racks, a business or organization can create a bicycle parking fixture with their logo or whatever artwork their imagination can come up with.
Steve says this has two benefits to a town – for one, it provides more secure parking for bicycles. The second benefit is the ability to add more aesthetically attractive features to a downtown area or sidewalk.
“Adding a bike rack is obviously great, but a bike rack with art is even better,” he said.
For businesses, a custom bike rack with their brand and logo is also like providing a mini-billboard that is visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Research shows providing a commercial bike rack in front of a business is a savvy marketing strategy. More than 50% of business owners say it increases their visibility to the public.
A study funded by Portland State University found that 67% of business owners say commercial bike racks increased foot and bike traffic in front of their location. Researchers also found that consumers who can easily reach a business by bicycle also tend to visit more often. Over the course of a month the study reported bicycling consumers will spend more money than a customer in a car.
As for bike paths, a study by the New York City Department of Transportation found that protected bicycle lanes lead to a 49% increase in retail sales at local businesses.
Steve and Gary both acknowledge that as the popularity of bicycling grows, the importance of adding more bike infrastructure and bicycle parking is critical. This is where bicycling groups and bike shops can become strong advocates and work with their local municipalities to ensure there is an adequate number of bicycle parking racks downtown, parks, stores, restaurants, etc.
There’s nothing sadder than seeing a youngster or adult come into a bike shop to purchase another bike after their bike has been ripped off. Or a bicycle that is damaged because it was not supported properly with the right type of bike rack.
Bicycle parking can also be a great way to cut down on traffic. If you make it convenient for people with adequate and protected bike lanes and bicycle parking, they will ride their bikes downtown to a store or restaurant. Another great benefit is to provide bicycle parking racks for events where traffic is always heavy and city streets are clogged for hours. Cities are finding great success with offering alternative means of getting to concerts or arts festivals.
According to the league of American Bicyclists, there is an 800% increase in parking availability when you replace two car parking spaces with a bike corral.
If you are a bicycling enthusiast or someone who is just curious about the sport and you happen to be in the South Florida towns listed above, check out Bike America. With their spotless décor and incredible variety of bikes and bike products, you will be impressed. It’s like visiting the Neiman Marcus of bicycle shops, but with very reasonable prices. And they will be glad to answer any of your questions, no matter how minor or how technical.
Steve, Gary and their crew know bicycles and they know the different levels of bicyclists. They want their stores to be seen as a resource for everybody and not just the elite bicyclist.
One thing a person is sure to know after they do visit, these guys are excited about the benefits of getting a person out of cars, off their feet and enjoying a spin around town on a bicycle.
Photo Caption Above: Gary Mercado and Steve Barnes, owners of Bike America, with a custom bicycle parking rack