I have started cycling to work. I used to cycle all the time, until I moved to the San Francisco bay area, and my daily commute was 25 miles in each direction by freeway. When I returned to Toronto, I found it hard to get back in to cycling, but by the spring time I got my act together and started cycling. I am wondering if it would be a viable business to start a one-stop bicycle station in major cities for cycling commuters like me. First, here is a description of my situation and the problem.
My morning ride is only 5 miles, and takes between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on the route I take. But when I get to work, I have several problems:
- There is really no place to change. Maybe my company is unique. We are a startup, and the only real place to change is in the stall of the men’s bathroom, which is pretty tight.
- There is no shower at work. I have been at companies with showers before, but generally find it uncomfortable to shower at my workplace. I shower at the gym and my yoga studio, and I have occasionally showered at work, but I find that uncomfortable. (Am I alone on this?)
- Bike storage is ad hoc. I’ve been at a few companies tolerate bicycles in the hallways, but why? Isn’t it odd to park a vehicle next to a cubical or in an office? The worst is when it rains out; the bikes drip dirt and water in the hallway.
- If something bad happens to my bike, there is no good way to get it fixed. This hasn’t happened to me many times, but I can imagine asking a technician to change a tire or tune up my brakes or gears while I’m in the office.
- Clothing. It is a major hassle to organize myself to bring a change of clothes. Frequently I forget something; sometimes it is something that only I notice. 😉 Other times it might be my dress shoes. Then what? Furthermore, I may run out of cycling clothes and it would be nice to be able to buy something appropriate. This idea extends to other bike gear such as gloves, reflectors, and lights.
- Laundry. Need I elaborate here? I would probably keep a few outfits for work and a few for cycling at the office if only someone could keep them clean for me.
The thought struck me the other day as I rode in to the city of Toronto, and stared at those big tall office buildings: I would love to ride right in to a specialty garage for bicycles. It would allow me to securely store my bike, then walk to a changing area, take a quick shower, towel off, perhaps shave and comb hair. I would toss my cycling clothes into my numbered bag, and then into the laundry where they would be cleaned by day’s end and returned to my locker. Then I would get a coffee and head to work. If something was a little funny with my bike, I would ask the technician to take a look. He would do that, while I was working, and just add the charge to my tab, leaving me a note about what was wrong and what he did to fix it, if anything.
The trouble with this idea is that I still have to walk to my office. Currently I park my bike down the hallway from my office and my walk takes about 20 seconds. I am not sure how far I would be willing to walk after this point, or how much I would be willing to pay for this service. But my guess is that I would be willing to walk about 10-15 minutes, and I would pay $30 a month without blinking, with additional charges for dry cleaning.
I am very interested to hear what others think about this idea. Maybe a franchise is possible…