How to Grow the Bike Community: 3 Ideas from Bike Shop Owner Beth Morford
By: PeopleForBikes Staff
At PeopleForBikes, we believe we can all do more to grow the cycling community. We’ve been doing the work for nearly 20 years and we want to keep the momentum going. We’re committed to improving inclusiveness in our messaging, broadening the audiences we reach, and increasing our staff diversity. Join us as we learn from various voices in the cycling community. Together, we can turn what we learn into action.
Find mentors who will support you
Beth Morford, owner and lead mechanic at Frontier Bikes in Eudora, Kansas, spent a lot of time on bikes before she decided she wanted to learn the ins-and-outs of how they work. So she took one apart — and then put it back together. It was tough — she needed help. Eventually, she found a shop that would teach her how to “wrench” properly. But not before getting turned away by several people who thought she would just get in the way or quit. Now she owns her own shop, and all of her employees are women.
Hire women, celebrate women
“A lot of people make it really complicated, but it’s not,” Morford says. “Hire women: give them responsibilities, make them visible and heard.” But her shop isn’t just for women, it’s for everyone. And the thing she’s noticed is that when you create a welcoming place for all people, you automatically create loyal customers.
Morford encourages industry events and gatherings to acknowledge women who are doing great things. Recognition goes a long way. Not just for the ones receiving it, but also for those who are observing. People want to reciprocate what others are being rewarded for. She says, “Even where it seems like a small gesture, we can all do more to celebrate and encourage representation.”
Boost the visibility of women
“If you’ve already got women working in the shop,” Morford says, “boost their presence and personality. Trust them. Give them more responsibility.” She suggests letting the women in the shop spearhead new programming, lead rides, teach classes, and promote the items they really enjoy. “Let the women take some pride in and control over how the shop is operated. People will take note. The customer base will grow.”
Start everything with an equity lens
For women and riders of all ages, it comes down to infrastructure. A wider demographic is more likely to ride when they feel safe. Thus, infrastructure projects should always start using an equity lens. Morford says the more that people see others who look like them, the more likely they’ll feel like they belong. “When it comes down to it, inclusiveness is good for business, and good for communities.”
All areas of the industry can do more to put diversity at the forefront of what they’re doing. At PeopleForBikes, we’ve put together some ways that retailers can reach out to an even wider audience, and ultimately get more people on bikes.