For some, bicycling is a lifestyle; for others it is recreation, exercise or a way to commute.
A Frederick shop has been honored with the America’s Best Bike Shops Award for its promotion of cycling, customer service and community involvement.
The Bicycle Escape at Clemson Corner shopping center was one of 170 shops nationwide to receive the award from the National Bicycle Dealers Association.
Fred Clements, executive director of the California-based association, said this was the award’s first year. In the past, a Top 100 Dealers Award was based on sales volume sent in by distributors, and shops did not need to apply for it. The new honor looks at an array of criteria.
“The goal is to identify who has the best performing shops,” Clements said.
The Bicycle Escape, in business for eight years, moved to its current location two years ago. The shop has 3,000 square feet of space and eight employees. It carries all types of bikes, parts and accessories, and offers service, education and advice on biking.
The shop stresses environmental responsibility, working with suppliers who use less packaging and reusing packaging when possible, using old T-shirts for shop rags and recycling paper, glass and metal.
Tom Rinker, co-owner of The Bicycle Escape, and Roger Rinker, manager, are both involved in the Frederick Bicycle Coalition, and Frederick Alderwoman Kelly Russell, herself a bicycle commuter, has worked with them on local cycling issues.
“Last year I spent only $489 on gasoline as a result of 187 ‘car free’ days,” Russell said. “Cycling has great benefits for exercise, reduction of traffic congestion, improvement of air quality, recreation and socializing, and cost savings.”
The League of American Bicyclists has awarded Frederick the Bronze Bicycle Friendly designation. The city has a permanent Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which studies existing and planned bicycle lanes. The new Pump Track on North East Street was a result of a partnership between the city and the Frederick Bicycle Coalition.
Matching a customer with the right bicycle is key, Tom Rinker said, whether it is grandparents wanting to ride with their grandchildren for recreation or a specialty bike for riders who do trail cycling or long-range touring.
Out of some 4,000 independent bicycle shops nationwide, Clements said, about 400 submitted award applications. The criteria included a secret shopper, phone etiquette, shop organization and how customers are greeted.
“Even those who didn’t make the award will be able to see where they can improve,” Clements said.