Q&A with Platinum Bicycle Friendly Business: velofix

velofix of Colorado was recently named a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Business by the League of American Bicyclists. As one of four Platinum awards in Colorado, we talked with Trent, owner in Colorado, to see how they got that designation, and tips on how other businesses in the area can follow suit.

How does it feel to have earned Platinum designation?

It feels great and honestly a little humbling. I felt that we had a strong application but it was definitely a bit of a surprise (albeit a very good one) to learn that we are now one of only three Platinum level businesses in the entire state. It is certainly an honor, but I must also admit that it comes with a certain level of pressure, as I feel that we need to step things up even further in order to justify the designation.

What are some ways that velofix Colorado is Platinum Bicycle Friendly?

Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt that bikes are our business! The mission of our mobile bike shop is to identify barriers that might keep people from riding their bikes, and then do whatever we can to help people overcome them. Our goal every day is to keep as many bicycles as possible in top working order – through convenience, quality, and a personal touch. A bike that is safe and working its best is more fun to ride – and this alone will prompt people to ride more frequently. We also enjoy inviting our customers into our mobile shop and answering any maintenance questions they have, as we work on their bikes. If they can learn something about how to maintain their bikes themselves, then perhaps they will feel more comfortable riding on a regular basis. We also enjoy partnering with other businesses to help them be more bicycle friendly themselves. We do this by offering our services to their employees onsite, offering basic bike maintenance classes, etc. We regularly support bicycle advocacy groups and several non-profit organizations that host cycling-related fundraising events, and we also enjoy volunteering our services and expertise to help bring bikes and bike maintenance to otherwise underserved communities and groups of people. To sum it up, we love bikes and we love sharing our passion with others.

Tips for other BFB’s on how to increase their bicycle friendly status:

In my interactions with a number of businesses, what I have found is that it often takes just one passionate staff member to really change a culture and make it easier/more appealing for people to commute to work by bicycle. Without that point person, however, it seems that the process of change and promotion of a bicycle-friendly work place can tend to get lost in the shuffle of daily tasks and other duties. Try to think outside of the box. Sponsor events that get staff members involved and will not only encourage them to ride, but will have a community outreach effect that will get others interested in bicycling as well.  How can they encourage their staff to ride to work more? That is something that is great for the environment as well as for business – as a healthier staff is more engaged and more productive while at work. Offer bike maintenance, offer a bike or fleet of bikes for employee use. Make it as simple as possible for people to ride their bikes – both staff and customers. Sometimes it just takes embracing a mindset and following through with a couple of small but creative initiatives that don’t even have to cost the company anything. Then, once people realize the positive benefits of bicycling, the momentum just builds from there.

Favorite thing about being a part of this community?

For starters, Fort Collins has more designated Bicycle Friendly Businesses than any other city in the country – of any size. That is really something to be proud of, and speaks volumes to how ingrained bicycling is in our community. It is supported by the city itself, as well as a plethora of organizations and businesses. As someone who loves talking about bicycles, it is always easy to find someone to talk to. The fact that we have so many bicycle friendly businesses and organizations in our community seems to be contagious and breed a drive to continuously improve, rather than get complacent and adopt a “we’re-good-enough-already” attitude.  I love that. Not to mention that on most days of the week there are multiple group rides of all skill levels, so no matter what kind of riding you do, there will always be someone to enjoy it with.

Most rewarding experience with a customer:

I consider it a great day any time we have the opportunity to service a bike and see the customer come back from a test ride with a smile on his or her face and exclaim something to the effect of, “Wow, it rides like it is brand new again!” We have had the privilege of working on a variety of bikes, including those of National Champions, World Champions, and even Olympians. However, I would say that the most genuinely rewarding experience that comes to mind was a service that we performed shortly after we started operations in 2016. A lady saw our van and asked about our business. When I told her of our mobile, at-your-door service, she got excited and explained that she had always loved riding her bike but had not done so for nearly two years because it had a flat tire and she was too intimidated to take it into a bike shop and explain that she did not know how to repair the flat tire. As a result, her bike had just been sitting unused in her garage. She scheduled an appointment, we went out and tuned up her bike, repaired her flat, and invited her into the van to watch the entire process so that she might be able to repair her own flat tire when it happened again in the future. I will never forget the joy on her face as she got back on her bike and pedaled it around once we were finished. That was so cool, and also a very eye-opening experience for me that, in many ways, modelled our mission of identifying those barriers that keep people from bicycling more, and doing whatever we can to overcome them.