Can you build community through buying stuff by bicycle?

Oh the juicy world of economics. I dabbled a bit in college by taking classes on feminist economics and Marxism. I am no expert, but I am fascinated by the economic impacts of bicycling. Recently I’ve been reading Elly Blue’s new book Bikenomics. I am more aware of how my bicycle lifestyle shapes my spending habits. But even more than that, I’ve been interested in how biking to businesses builds community.

Aside from the folks who totally live off the grid and dumpster dive for all the basic necessities, the rest of us buy stuff. The choices we make about where we buy stuff and who we buy it from carry all of these unintended consequences, that can be for better or worse. When we buy stuff at big box stores a large chunk of our money immediately leaves the city. However if you shop locally more of your money is recirculated in the city, enriching your neighbors.

I realized that know a lot of business owners around town. In many cases I’ve been connected through business owners because their business is bike related. Going to the Seattle Bicycle Expo a few years ago, I met Martina of Swift Industries. I fell totally in love with her bags and as it turns out we are actually neighbors. Not only do you have the chance to support people making great products you may end up making friends.

Bicycle Benefits is another great way to discover new business and get discounts to places just for riding your bike there. A few of my favorite bicycle benefit deals are the $2 Theo Chocolate Bar, the 2 for 1 tickets at Central Cinema and 50% off your drink when it is raining at Asgard. That is one sweet date night, all pedal powered.

Supporting local business is an important rejection of corporate chains and mass produced crap. Local business fuels people’s creativity and passion. You see that in folks who have recently started incredible business like Peddler’s Brewing or G & O Family Cyclery. These folks are inspired by the power of bicycling and they have created a space for community to develop. Every time I go to G & O I run into someone who I love seeing. Every time I am at Peddler’s I meet new people to swap bike stories with over a beer.

As we enter the crazy holiday shopping season remember, you can skip Black Friday (like G & O is bravely doing). Instead grab your bicycle and head out for Small business Saturday. Also, remember to check out local craft fairs. I’ll be at the Hangover Flea Market/ ArtAche Market this Sunday 1-6pm at Chop Suey. I’ll be selling books, journals, cards and some sweet goodies from Taking The Lane. I even have some copies of Bikenomics, you can pick up a copy and then we can talk about how bicycles will save the economy over a cup of coffee at El Portal, a bike friendly local coffee shop!

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