Since I am giving my knees a rest this week, I took the opportunity to bring my bike into Ace Wheelworks for some love. During this time of year, I fully expected to be without bike for at least five days, and was happily surprised when I was asked to make an appointment. I dropped my bike off at 7:30 Monday evening, and was told it would be ready by 5pm on Tuesday. I expressed my surprise that it would be ready so quickly, to which the girl behind the counter replied “Aren’t appointments fun?”
Walking into the shop last night was encouraging to say the least. The place was mobbed, but not chaotic. There were eight mechanics in the shop, and at least that many other employees on the floor and behind the register, each helping a customer, plus my bike was ready as promised. There’s the proof that the rise in gas prices can be turned into a positive. Rising gas prices are causing more people to reconsider driving to work, and are adopting cycling. More bike riders means busier bike shops which in turn creates a higher demand for mechanics and salespersons in the community which creates jobs as well as a higher demand for manufacturers of bikes and related products.
Granted, the transition will not be without its growing pains while each side of the equation settles and a balance is found, much the same with the shifting MBTA supply/demand equilibrium. There are more and more people riding the T rather than driving each day, which puts more stress on an already stressed public transit system. Yes, increased ridership will give more money to the cash-strapped MBTA, but the money will not be an immediate fix. It’s going to get crowded, there are going to be delays, and things will get worse before they get better. Bike shops are more flexible and can handle increased volume more quickly because their cashflow is far more liquid. As a businessowner, one can see a rise in customers, service slips, and sales and can hire more employees fairly quickly to handle the rise. The T has far more red tape to work through, and it’s not a question of manpower alone, but of comissioning new trains and even such largescale projects as bolstering the supports on the Longfellow bridge to allow the Red Line to return to full steam between MGH and Kendall. The change probably won’t be quick or easy, but there are clear signs all over that we, as a society, are beginning to make changes in the way we live our lives. Changes that are necessary to make if we are going to avoid collapsing in on ourselves.