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Monday, March 29, 2010

Bike Parts Vending Machine

When I was younger I loved riding my bike in Brooklyn. Here in Roanoke, not so much. A couple of things make it less than attractive to me, including having to wear a helmet, and the lycra/spandex uniform that seems to be mandatory, particularly among men of all shapes and sizes. (That's a post for another day.)

Since I live on top of a hill and near a busy road, anywhere I would choose to ride would have to be gotten to via my car, which means I would have to find a way to squish my bike in the back of it. Not only is that impractical, but losing weight notwithstanding, it sorta defeats the purpose of riding a bicycle in the first place. There are many hills and valleys that this out of shape body would not be able to handle, and where there are straight semi-level paths, I certainly would never be comfortable riding in the roads with cars. Many bikers here do not seem to have the same worries as I do because lately there are tons of them. Biking is so popular here from what I've heard, read and seen, it's almost cult-like. (That's a post for another day too.)

The other day I read this article about a bike parts vending machine recently being put in Brooklyn..."the machine is stocked with bells ($2 to $10), locks ($5), inner tubes ($6), lights, bicycle tire patch kits ($2), pumps, brake pads, etc". I wonder if something like that would be effective here in Roanoke. Would if work downtown, or would it work better on some of the well-traveled but out of the way trails? What do you bikers think? I don't think anyone would get rich with it but it could be profitable, particularly if its linked with one of the bicycle stores that have been springing up. So bikers, feel free to share the idea, but please, no spandex in the machine. Okay?


  1. Clever idea. It seems that it would have limitations in that the various sizes of items stored in the machine would make it more likely to jam, and it would be appealing to teens looking for a quick crime.

  2. You hit it on the head. One of the only reasons I don't like Roanoke (I actually love Roanoke) is the fact that it is so difficult to bike, walk, skate, or whatever I used to do in my flat home state of Ohio. The topography also makes for bad neighbors. You have to shout above or below to talk to your neighbors. You do and they do see your garage door closing as you pull your car in. Walking these hills can be pretty tough. Everywhere else I've ever lived, I have owned a bike and here..forget it. I know biking is starting up big time again at the parks etc. but..who wants to put your bike in a car and drive it out somewhere, like you said. This defeats the purpose. I have heard that there is a man who rents bikes down at the park near Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Seems like a good idea. Sort of.
    Liked your post today.

  3. Cheryl, I heard about him too. I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, I'll rent a bike one day...we'll see.

  4. Roanoke has a ways to go to make the city bike-friendly. The biker trail next to Va. Western is ridiculous!

  5. Elena, just found your blog through Dan Casey's Bike Month column. Thanks for commenting on his post.

    There was a guy who rented bikes along the Roanoke River Greenway at the Ramada Inn. I'm not sure if he's back this year or not. Sharebike also rents bikes downtown (corner of Jefferson and Franklin) with easy access to both Lick Run and the Roanoke River Greenway.

    With the exception of the hills - which, to a California boy like myself, are daunting but not insurmountable - Roanoke is remarkably bike friendly. There is not much in the way of bike lanes, true, but I've found there is a remarkable amount of connectivity within the neighborhood streets that someone who drives the same road everyday probably wouldn't notice, at least in the city (there are cul-de-sacs in the county which tend to close neighborhoods off from each other and would require you to ride along the main road, such as in Cave Spring).

    Of course, a lot depends on the neighborhood you're starting out from, too. But on the whole I think Roanoke is doing pretty well.

  6. Thanks for your comments Jeremy. I do live in the Oak Grove/Cave Spring area and my "main" road would be 419 which is impossible to ride a bike on. I have looked for the gent by the Ramada Inn but anytime I've been there he hasn't. Maybe one time I'll finally get back on one. Enjoy your riding, but be careful out there!!!