New bike store hopes to keep bicycle popularity coasting

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Bike Clark County

• Address: 1604 Main St.

• Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

• Information: 360-450-7145 or bikeclarkcounty.org

Like the wheel of a bicycle, Clark County’s cycling community can only go so far without a hub.

That idea has steered the nonprofit Bike Clark County to open a new bike shop and repair center in Uptown Village. The shop is its first physical space since leaving Hough Pool in late 2014. Organizers say the community has so far welcomed them with open arms.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Peter Van Tilburg, vice president of Bike Clark County. “We get people through the door. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s one after the other. They say ‘I’m so happy you’re here.’ It’s been really positive.”

The shop, 2,000 square feet or so when accounting for basement storage area, is located at 1604 Main St. It opened quietly in April, though organizers plan on throwing a grand opening sometime in the summer. Bike Clark County operates there rent-free after Burgerville, whose corporate headquarters are next door, donated the warehouse space.

Jon Sequiera, director of finance for the Vancouver-born restaurant chain, said they offered the space after they heard Bike Clark County was leaving Hough Pool. He called the donation a “no-brainer.”

“Being an avid cycler myself, I thought ‘How can we help these guys out?’ ” said Sequiera, who now sits on the board of directors for Bike Clark County. “Burgerville likes to be active in the community and do things like that. We think this benefits the community.”

Inside the shop has all the makings of home for gear-heads. New and used bikes are racked on the south wall, up for sale, and bike tires hoop from the ceiling. Tools hang around in the sort of organized chaos often seen with mechanics. The store recently installed new windows at the storefront because, up until then, its facade was just an open bay door.

Revenues from the store help finance Bike Clark County and its programs. The organization started seven years ago, visiting schools to teach students about bikes and bike safety. At the store, they run programs for students ranging from elementary school age to high schoolers.

The organization employs two part-time workers at the shop and two part-time employees within the nonprofit, in addition to Van Tilburg and president Eric Giacchino.

The future

One six-week class, Bike 2 Leadership, has high school students pluck a bike frame from the store’s inventory. They spend the duration of the class learning how to repair and maintain the bike, fixing it with new tires, brake wires, chains, among other things. The students are also taught first aid and job skills, like how to interview and build a résumé.

“I only knew how to change a tire” before this class, said Kyle Mendioro, a senior at Hudson’s Bay High School. “I think it’s just a really good program, I really like it.”

The class introduced some students to an alternative to driving. The costs of a car, maintenance, insurance and gas are a deterrent, they said; and the prospects of a car accident are frightening.

“Driving is just scary,” said Deona Muehe-Brice, a junior at Hudson’s Bay High School.

Van Tilburg expects cycling to become more popular in Vancouver soon. Apartment construction is increasing the density in the city, he pointed out. City officials are also working to adopt new policies for road construction to make cyclists, pedestrians, public transit and wheelchairs as high a priority as cars have historically been.

“I can say they’re moving in the right direction,” he said.