Posts Tagged ‘green jobs’

Detroit Bikes: Making bikes in the Motor City

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Zak Pashak and his new Detroit Bikes company has been getting some well-deserved media coverage of late.

On Monday, the Windsor Star published this article:

After two years, Pashak and his current stable of 10 employees have settled on a prototype.

Detroit Bikes will make one model, a commuter bicycle with three speeds and a coaster back brake, that only comes in black. It has a curved top tube to give it an ‘old school’ look and will sell for around $500.

Pashak plans to have bikes available by spring 2013 and hopes to eventually produce 100 a day.

He will start selling bikes in Detroit, with plans to quickly spread out. He’s also eyeing Windsor and other Canadian cities.

Just black? That reminds us of the quote from Henry Ford’s autobiography, “Any customer can have a [Model T] painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

Creating Jobs

Detroit Bike’s 10 employees is significant. Given the high unemployment in the city, the question of whether something creates jobs is often asked. As a part of Detroit’s burgeoning bicycle culture, this is something advocates can point to.

No, this isn’t a huge number of jobs compared with Detroit’s auto industry, but it’s better the jobs are here rather than other cities or countries.

New Live, Work, Play bike racks on Detroit’s Broadway

And, these ten jobs are not the thousands that Dan Gilbert and friends are bringing to Downtown. However, those jobs are also related to Detroit’s bicycle culture.

Young adults want to live in urban environments with transportation options. They’re willing to embrace biking as transportation rather than something that just happens at a Metropark. According to one study, Gen Y was taking 24% more bike trips as of 2009.

This is not a subtle trend. It’s an “automakers beware” trend according to the Detroit Free Press.

More than 30% of American 19-year-olds in 2010 (30.5% to be precise) did not have a driver’s license, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

That’s the highest percentage ever, and a sharp increase from the 24.5% in 2008 and only 12.7% in 1983, based on data from the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau. The unlicensed population is almost certainly larger today.

Detroit has become a magnet for ambitious young people” and many?Metro Detroit employers have taken note and moved to the city. Some are starting to contribute to Detroit’s bike infrastructure and planning.

It certainly will be interesting to see the results all these trends produce over the next couple year.

The Huffington Post also covered Pashak and Detroit Bikes.

The Hub of Detroit: Hiring and seeking bike donations

Friday, July 6th, 2012

First, The Hub of Detroit is having a bike drive and is seeking donated used bikes before September 1st.

We are currently trying to get 300 bicycles donated by Sept. 1st to continue our youth programming.

In 2011 alone, the Hub got over 300 youth on bicycles and taught mechanic skills to many more. In 2012 we are
providing more programming than ever in our 13 year history by having youth work in our shop 5 days a week.
This would not be possible without the help from generous people just like you.

The 2012 Bike Drive flier has all the details.

Hiring Earn a bike instructors

The Hub is also helping to hire a couple instructors for a youth Earn-a-Bike program in the Osborn Neighborhood. This program is the result of a grant via the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

We are working on getting an Earn-a-Bike program started in the Osborn Neighborhood in collaboration with the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative as well as the Rails-to-Trails Conservatory and other groups.

If you are interested, just email me ( a resume and cover letter explaining why you would be perfect for this job. You can also drop off or mail a printed cover letter and resume to:

The Hub of Detroit
c/o Jason X
3611 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201

The Hub will be hiring and training folks for this job, but it isn’t our program, just one we are helping with.

Again, this position is NOT a job at the Hub.?It is a program that will take place in the Osborn Neighborhood near Outer Drive and Connor.

We highly encourage folks of all different types to apply for the job. Get a resume in by July 15th for consideration!

Apply now. It should be a very rewarding experience helping get more Osborn youth on bikes!

Detroit biking creating service & manufacturing jobs

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Founder of Fossil to make bikes in Detroit

This project has been bubbling under the radar until now. From the Detroit News:

The founder of Fossil Inc. has chosen a New Center site to make bicycles and watches and is close to signing a lease agreement to sell those goods in a West Canfield Street retail shop in Detroit’s Midtown, according to three sources familiar with the dealings.

Tom Kartsotis, founder of Fossil watches, sunglasses and apparel, has signed a lease for a 30,000-square-foot space in the College for Creative Studies’ A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because they didn’t have permission to speak publicly.

Yes, they’ll be building retro cruiser bikes (and watches) in the former GM Research Laboratories. The brand is Shinola and they have some top people from the bicycle industry involved.

Crain’s also offered this insight into why he chose the city of Detroit.

He said Kartsotis commissioned a study of pens in which subjects were asked if they prefer pens made in China, the USA or Detroit at price points of $5, $10 and $15 respectively.

“People picked the Chinese pen over the USA pen because it was cheaper,” he said. “But when offered the Detroit pen, they were willing to pay the higher price point.”

By the end of this year, the city of Detroit may have up to four bicycle manufacturers within city limits.

New bike shop?

This Detroit News article discusses new pop-up retail along Woodward Avenue in Downtown Detroit. One pop-up possibility is a bike shop.

Jon Hughes sees a lane of opportunity in Detroit. As the owner of Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop, he would like to sign a two-month lease in Detroit for space where he can test the urban trails and side streets for interest by city residents and workers in a full-service, cycling aficionados store.

“Everything depends on the size of the store downtown,” said Hughes, 29, who is negotiating a lease on one of two spaces in the Compuware Building and could move into the smaller space as early as July 1. If the store catches on, he said he could renew the lease for a year or more. If the venture goes flat, he only loses two month’s rent money and sweat equity.

Yes, having the Downtown Ferndale bike shop in Downtown Detroit sounds odd.

Food delivery by bike

Business has been picking up (and delivering!) for Hot Spokes. This Detroit News article covers it current growth.

Shayne O’Keefe may not envision himself a businessman, but the 29-year-old drummer for a punk rock band just might be in denial.

That’s because a simple idea a few years ago that would allow O’Keefe to pay his rent on Fourth Street in Midtown Detroit and maybe go on tour here and there with his band, Noman, now supports not only him, but five of his friends as well.

Plus, it fuels his love of biking.

Pedicabs in high gear

And finally, the Detroit News also covered the Rickshaw Detroit‘s pedicab business – a business they hope to expand soon.

And it sounds like they have a supporter in the Mayor’s office.

Detroit Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis admits he’s never noticed the pedicabs, but said it’s a great idea for a new business that can help the city through its transformation.

“As we get more people in the downtown and Midtown areas, you’re going to see more opportunities for the entrepreneurial types in the city,” he said. “We want to have people engaging themselves in Detroit and having fun and enjoying the city.”

That sentiment rings true for all these businesses and new ones that are in the pipeline.

Being involved with biking is fun, but getting paid for it is more fun.


Detroit biking articles all over the local media

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

A couple weeks ago we wrote about seven different biking articles that ran in the Detroit media.

Well here’s another nine!

Cycling for Health

Our friend and longtime Detroit cyclist Cassandra Spratling wrote this article in the Detroit Free Press. The Daley’s adoption of biking as transportation — and how they lost 210 pounds between them — is quite a story.

When Don and Darla Daley dine at restaurants near their Royal Oak home, they no longer drive their car.

It’s the same with quick trips to the store or nearby Royal Oak Farmers Market. They hop on the bicycles they bought two years ago — their favorite form of recreation and exercise.

“I never thought I’d love it as much as I do,” Darla Daley says. “Other bikers wave at you. It’s just fun.”

There are other health success stories included here as well.

Cycling for Green Jobs

The Free Press also ran this story on Vanita Mistry and her Detroit Greencycle company that provides curbside recycling.

Four days a week before heading out to her day job, Mistry straps an 8-foot trailer to her mountain bike and pedals for several hours through a number of Detroit neighborhoods, including Clark Park, the Eastern Market district and Corktown to pick up recyclables and compost from her regular customers.

She totes twelve 18-gallon bins on her trailer, with a capacity to carry up to 300 pounds. Mistry separates plastic, cardboard, paper, glass and aluminum. She also collects composting material.

“I find that I’m driven more by public service and giving back,” Mistry said. “What motivates me is knowing I’m making a difference in the work I’m doing, and I’ve found that Greencycle is one of many ways I strive to make a difference in my community.”

Next, the Huffington Post continues their series on Detroit biking with an interesting look at the city’s bike messenger history.

CBS Detroit also joined in with this article on Shane O’Keefe’s Hot Spokes food delivery company.

O’Keefe said it’s sometimes a challenge to balance several meals inside his thermal bike box and his hands, but he does it. O’Keefe said they’ll deliver in any weather — even deep snow.

The last time they could not make a delivery was more than two winters ago during a major snow storm.

O’Keefe said he does not own a car and he’s glad he doesn’t have to pay for gas while trying to run a delivery business.

Critical Mass

Again, the Huffington Post published this article, Detroit Critical Mass Helps Area Cyclists Find Common Ground On City Streets. It accurately paints a mixed view on how successful this ride is. Interestingly, the critics aren’t motorists, but other Detroit cyclists. We’ve heard from critics of this popular ride as well: it’s too fast, too long, too organized, and it caters too much to suburban cyclists who drive to the city for the ride.

Ironically enough, the Detroit Critical Mass ride was moved to this location in part because of its free car parking. The bike lanes being installed this year eliminate much of that free parking. Will Critical Mass move again because of the bike lanes?

A View from Below

The Lakewood Observer from the Cleveland-area published, The Detroit Comparison: Sam Willsey’s Recent Cycling Experience. It’s an interesting article that gives the impression that Detroit is ahead of Cleveland in terms of adding bike lanes and trails. We’re not sure how both cities compare, but it seems we have much lower traffic on our streets.

The article does get a couple things wrong. We do have a bike advocacy group — the Detroit Greenways Coalition. And, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is not proposing or significantly funding these projects. Non-profits and the City are the ones proposing, while funding comes from a variety of state, local, and philanthropic sources.

A Bicycle Lending Library

Stories about Fender Bender’s plan for a community-based bike share program were published in both Mode Shift and the Huffington Post.

From Mode Shift:

Like any bike sharing program, The Bicycle Lending Library will rent bikes out from one to four days with the single-day rental being the most “expensive” and adding days will make the rental cheaper. [Sarah] Sidelko says the program is going to be very affordable, but does not have the specific dollar amounts worked out yet.

In addition to renting a bicycle, the Library will also lend out a helmet, a bike light and lock and a map of Detroit, which will have an emphasis on bike lanes and greenways, and will have other prominent destinations peppered in.

Detroit Cycling History

The Huffington Post rounded out their bike series by touching on the city’s rich cycling history. The article is primarily an interview with the Hub’s Jack Van Dyke.

And on a related note, the web site Roads were not Built for Cars ran this story on Henry Ford and his connection to cycling back in the day. The web site’s author Carlton Reid was recently in Detroit. We had the opportunity to give him a bike tour that connected our cycling history. During our ride he asked, “Are we downtown?”. Yes we were. It was midday on a Friday and the streets were ours. There was very little traffic. He was rather impressed and said, “This is the cycling city of the future.”

Detroit Bikes: Making bicycles in the Motor City

Monday, April 30th, 2012

You’ve heard about the eye-candy, low volume retro jewels from the Detroit Bicycle Company. This isn’t them.

This is Detroit Bikes. They are creating a simple, low-cost, practical urban bikes that should retail for just under $500. And they expect to be building them in the city of Detroit – up to 100 a day if all goes as planned.

Detroit Bikes is starting to get noticed. The Detroit News and Crain’s Detroit Business both wrote about the new company and its founder, Zak Pashak, an entrepreneur from Calgary.

Pashak told the News, “Henry Ford’s goal was to create affordable, reliable transportation. That’s my goal.”

However, the best, more comprehensive coverage of the new company is on Detroit Make it Here.

Pashak is intent on taking advantage of the industrial opportunity here. He said that he doesn’t think he would have been able to easily find welders and machinists in Calgary and that in Detroit he can buy an industrial building for $300,000 that would cost more than $2 million in his native city.

Manufacturing bicycles “doesn’t seem like the kind of thing I could start in Calgary,” Pashak said.

It’s possible to produce affordable, American-made bikes in volume, especially in Detroit, he said.

This is really exciting. We’re not sure the last time bicycles were built in earnest within the city of Detroit.

We are sure about wanting to buy one of these.