Bike-based businesses come together, hope to organize

Bike-based business owners at a
meeting this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus)

There is some serious momentum afoot for Portland’s growing number of bike-based businesses to organize into some sort of alliance. Nowhere has that momentum been more apparent than at a meeting to discuss the idea held at the Portland Development Commission’s downtown offices this morning.

The idea was first floated over a month ago by Hannah Sandmeyer of Q19 Greening (a company we profiled back in January). Sandmeyer sent out an email to several bike-based businesses wanting to gauge interest in coming together for a meeting to talk about how to “support and collectively empower businesses that run on two wheels.”

The response was very positive and this morning, well over a dozen people representing a number of businesses packed into a meeting room to brainstorm ideas and prioritize what they’d like to see in a new organization.

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Among the businesses represented were: Q19 Greening, Pedal Bike Tours, Portland Cascadia Pedicabs/Ice Trikes, BikeEmpowered, Cafe Velo, Soup Cycle, Portland Pedal Power, bike realtor Kirsten Kaufman, Portland Bicycle Tours, and others.

The shared trait of all these companies is that they operate bicycles on roadways as a primary part of their business.

Ken Wetherell of
Portland Pedal Power.

The meeting was facilitated by Michelle Poyourow of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. She helped the group discuss what it wants in a new organization and then listed a set of agreed-upon priorities. Right from the start, business owners threw out ideas and their energy made it clear that this fledgling organization has some very real potential.

This was just the first meeting and there are obviously many issues and action items to flesh out, but the networking and discussion that happened this morning are a very positive sign. In the end, the group voted on their top priorities going forward. Those were: Political representation and lobbying; pooling of marketing resources; finding insurance coverage (a big issue for bike businesses); acting as an incubator for new bike-based businesses (or helping non-bike businesses do more on bikes); and being a source of networking for business development.

At this point, it hasn’t been decided if the group should remain a stand-alone or if it should officially link up with the BTA. Another meeting is being scheduled to hash out those and other issues.

In other bike business news, there’s a separate effort going on to create a more formal bike-friendly business alliance — a new group that could help stand up to the not-always bike-loving Portland Business Alliance. More on that effort coming soon.

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