Family Bicycles is featured in the Wednesday Sun, the local newspaper for southern KCMO. It’s a good interview and shop owner Theresa Van Ackeren makes some great points about bicycling for transportation.
“A lot of people think a bike is a toy, but a bike can be a form of transportation. If you need to run to the grocery store for something, it’s just as fast to ride a bike, especially if you live in the Brookside/Waldo area. It’s very feasible for people to use their bikes for errands.”
Experience Kansas City’s sights, sounds by bicycle
By: Kelli Bamforth, Staff Writer
The Wednesday Sun
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Theresa Van Ackeren wants people to experience Kansas City from a different driver’s seat – that of a bicycle.
“It’s part of the whole philosophy of ‘stop and smell the roses,’” Van Ackeren said. “When you’re on a bike and going slower, you tend to look around and see things you don’t typically see from the hermetically sealed confines of a car. You come in contact with more people and hear the sounds of the city.”
Van Ackeren quit her day job in 2007. After working on a business plan during the summer and fall, Van Ackeren opened Family Bicycles, 7140 Wornall Road, on March 1.
Van Ackeren said she weighed location heavily.
“Frankly, it’s close to my home, and it’s close to a large population of people who appreciate cycling,” Van Ackeren said. “It’s close to the Trolley Track Trail, one of the few trails in Kansas City, and that was important to me as well. This is not a huge cycling area but it’s beginning to show popularity in Kansas City.”
Van Ackeren lived in Lee’s Summit for 11 years before relocating to Brookside in 2001, when she got back into the habit of cycling short distances.
“I’m a big proponent of using your bike instead of a car for short trips, like to the grocery store,” she said. “I’m somewhat of an environmentalist but I also support it for the physical fitness aspect, for getting people outside and enjoying the fresh air.
“I plan to ride to work everyday.”
Family Bicycles targets three types of customers, Van Ackeren said: people who have not ridden in a long time; people who ride infrequently and want to increase their number of rides; and people who use bikes to commute.
“A lot of people think a bike is a toy,” she said, “but a bike can be a form of transportation. If you need to run to the grocery store for something, it’s just as fast to ride a bike, especially if you live in the Brookside/Waldo area. It’s very feasible for people to use their bikes for errands.”
Any trip less than two miles will generally take as long in a car as on a bike, Van Ackeren said.
“In Kansas City we’re lucky that we don’t have to park far away from many places,” she said, “but traffic signals generally don’t work together so well and that can slow us down (in a car).”
Kansas City-area commuters need support, Van Ackeren said.
“I know people who live in Olathe and commute to downtown,” she said. “Thirty miles one way is too far for many, but for the average cyclist, I’d say 20 miles is OK. The majority of people here don’t have that long of a commute … when I worked my commute was 7.5 miles.”
Business is “going well” and is helped by foot traffic and word-of-mouth advertising, Van Ackeren said.
A grand opening celebration is planned from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 12, and customers can receive 10 percent off through the end of April.
“What we try to do (with customers) is have a conversation, find out their cycling experiences, what they’d like to do and what their goals might be,” Van Ackeren said. “We try to find out what the best bike might be to meet their needs. We tailor the sale to every customer.
“It’s really about trying to find a bike someone will use. I want them to buy it, of course, but also use it.”