Bicycles are an excellent way to do business. Whether you are advertising your business by bike (aka bikevertising), transporting customers around town in a pedicab, moving your business or vending station around town by bike, picking up trash by bike, or any other range of services, bicycles provide a unique, cost-effective, and eye-catching way to do business. Retail and commercial services by bike are only one subcategory of cycling services, which encompasses everything from land services to emergency and patrol services to bicycle mapping and more, but they are definitely one of biggest growing categories of cycling services today.
What Constitutes Retail & Commercial Services by Bike?
When we talk about retail and commercial services by bike, we are mainly referring of any kind of business or operation that uses the bicycle as a keystone element or piece of equipment for doing business. This separates out bike shops, which are certainly focused on the bike, but they do not use the bicycle itself to do business. There are definitely some cases where a stationary business with a storefront might use the bicycle to provide some service or do part of the business, so those are considered retail and commercial services by bike, according to our conceptualization of it. But again, the main requirement is that the bicycle is actually used in the process of doing business. Obviously, retail and commercial services by bike are also focused on selling a product or service, advertising, or the like, as well.
Image Credit: Tucson Velo
In many cases, it is somewhat difficult to distinguish between retail and commercial services by bicycle and bike delivery. We aren’t too concerned about having a super-strict definition of either, and the overlap between the two is a good thing, but for the most part, delivery often refers to mail, packages, documents, and the like, while retail and commercial bike services might be focused around delivering food, flowers, plants, etc.
Types of Retail & Commercial Services by Bike
So far, we have identified four categories of retail and commercial services by bike, but I have a feeling we are probably missing a few. If you operate a retail or commercial service by bike that we missed in our list, we would love to hear from you.
- Bike Advertising: The bicycle is often used as a convenient source of advertising. Banners flown from bike trailers, signs attached to racks, and flyer pockets in bike bags are just some of the ways the bicycle can be used to advertise.
- Pedicabs: What better way to see a city than in a carriage pulled by bicycle? Bicycle taxis or pedicabs are not only popular for tourists in many places, there are also practical means of transportation in many crowded cities throughout the world.
- Mobile Bike Businesses: The bicycle is also a popular mode of transportation for retail vendors, who might ride their merchandise to a certain location to set up shop for the day, and then ride home when the day is done.
- Garbage & Recycling Collection by Bike: Really, the extent of utility cycling is extremely vast. You can even use your bicycle to help pick up trash and recycling, something that seems so entirely dependent on motorized travel, but which really doesn’t have to be.
Image Credit (and header): Bike Trailer Blog
Examples of Retail & Commercial Services by Bike
It doesn’t come as too much of surprise that the majority of great examples of retail and commercial bike services that I was able to find information about are from Portland, OR, as Portland is fortunate to have the great site Bike Portland, which has great articles about everything related to bikes in and around that city. Nonetheless, cities around the United States and the rest of the world have plenty of great examples, as well. Below, I have listed a number of links to stories and websites about retail and commercial services by bike that I was able to find. But as always, let us know if you have heard of others!
- Mobile bike shop: The North Portland Mobile Bike shop will make house calls by bike to help you with repairs.
- SoupCycle: This mobile business is on the cusp of bike delivery and retail and commercial services by bike, but it deserves mention here because SoupCycle is focused around making delicious, organic soups, which are always delivered by bicycle.
- Bicycle hearse: Yes, you can even be taken to internment by bicycle!
- Trash hauling by bike: Pedal People, a company in Massachusetts, collects and delivers trash for their municipality.
- Tree planting by bike: This might be more of a land service by bike, but since I just discovered it, this tree planting by bicycle effort deserves mention.
evertising in Tucson: Businesses in Tucson, AZ, are embracing advertising by bike.
- Cargo bike businesses: Treehugger has a great, long list of tons of retail and commercial services by bike. Check it out!