Monthly Archives: November 2014

Bikes and Butterballs

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Here at Worksman Cycle, Thanksgiving is a special time in the most traditional sense.

Our factory’s staff  is representative of the enormous cultural diversity of our home – Queens, NY.  Many are immigrants or first generation Americans who are building a better life here in America. It is story repeated time after time since our company was founded by a young Russian immigrant in 1898.

While we celebrate our ethnic, religious and cultural diversity throughout the year, on this day we bond together as Americans. Each employee, whether originally from Guyana, Puerto Rico, Central Africa, Jamaica, or Brooklyn or Queens, whether they are Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Jewish, will all leave here today with a Butterball turkey and all the trimmings.

This Thursday and Friday we take a pause from work to spend time with our families and give thanks for the bounty this country has bestowed upon us.

Enjoy the day.

One Horse & Five Bikes on a Humanitarian Mission

Austin Horse

To earn your living as a NYC bike messenger it helps to have nerves of steel, an acute awareness of the dangers around you, and a laser like focus on getting where you need to go quickly and in one piece. Those qualities, along with the ability to ride a bicycle at ridiculous speeds, has made Austin Horse (on the right in the photo above) a legend among NYC bike messengers.  A two-time North American Cycle Courier champion and member of the Red Bull Racing team, Austin simply stares down danger and pedals past. Then he repeats the process time and time again.

Austin is now delivering perhaps his most important parcel ever – -hope. This Veteran’s Day Austin picked up five bicycles here at Worksman Cycles (and two kid’s bikes from the great folks at Recycle-A-Bicycle) and headed off to deliver them to displaced refugees who have fled the devastating violence in Syria.  Austin will visit Jordan and then Lebanon. His plan is to establish a pipeline to bring hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of bikes to these displaced people who have not only lost their home, but their livelihood. He knows, as a person who has made a living on a bike, that mobility equals opportunity. A bike allows a person to get to work to help provide for a family. A bike can also be used to access supplies so a person can ply their trade. Bikes provide access, which in turn provides income,  which can then start (pardon the pun) a cycle of hope.

We are proud of many of the products we produce here at Worksman. Many have great stories. But some stick out. Likewise, we have sold bikes and trikes to many cool folks who have used our products in all sorts of ventures. But some stick out.

Good luck Austin as you to take the ride of your life. And thanks for letting us be part of it.

New Life for CitiBike (and the bikeshare industry)

The recent sale of Alta Planning to Bikeshare Holdings is a welcome development for not only the users of New York’s CitiBike, but for fans of bikeshare across the U.S.  In fact, this purchase may well save the U.S. bikeshare industry as we know it.

In addition to NYC’s CitiBike, the citizens of Boston, Washington D.C, Chattanooga and other cities where Alta bikeshare programs have been established can look forward to a vast improvement in the current systems as well as finally seeing long-promised expansion. All this improvement will come as a result of finally bringing two critical resources to these programs that every successful business needs – capital and effective management.

If this seems a harsh indictment of the previous owners of these bikeshare systems it is fully intended. Frankly put, Alta Planning never had the capital or the management to bring bikeshare to a position of financial viability. And the city administrations across the U.S. who continued to award contracts to them owe their citizens some answers.

But instead of dwelling on the litany of errors that plagued Alta managed programs, let’s instead applaud Bikeshare Holdings for believing that bikeshare is a viable industry with an important role to occupy in the transportation mix of our cities. With their professional management and deep pockets they will ensure that not only will the current systems continue to operate, but they will expand to serve a greater cross section of residents and will, hopefully, be joined by new systems in many cities.

The first publicly announced decision by the new owners is telling: the appointment of Jay Walder as CEO. If there’s anyone who can bring order to a complex transportation system it is Mr. Walder, the former head of New York’s MTA. It is also telling that Citibank, who had turned down Alta when they came asking for expansion money, has jumped right back in with a huge commitment to expansion. The message here is clear: the concept was sound, the execution was dreadful. Now with professional management, Citibank has given its ringing endorsement.

New Yorkers, who have enthusiastically supported the program, should be ecstatic at this development, as should the residents of the other cities with Alta systems. But perhaps none more than the citizens of bike crazy Portland, OR who saw their system hopelessly delayed by their hometown darlings, Alta Planning.

Which brings me to my final point: the home team advantage. We at Worksman never gained any fans in the Bloomberg administration because we insisted that they open up and inspect all that baggage Alta schlepped with them into our city – New York City: their total lack of experience in operational P&L management and consumer marketing as well as their complete lack of capital. Not to mention their dependence on a Canadian company (Bixi) who had severe financial troubles (ultimately liquidated) and who was dogged with questions about “irregularities.” Call it “local knowledge” but, as a 116 year old corporate citizen of NYC, we know a few things about operating here and we never liked what we saw or heard from Alta.

But we have always believed in and supported bikeshare. So we are thrilled that NYC, and those other cities, will see their programs live on and flourish because they now have “adult supervision.” So we wish the best of luck to Bikeshare Holdings and Jay Walder. And we also offer our congratulations to the DiBlasio administration who inherited a mess and expertly played a critical role in this transaction which will ensure that CitiBike will fulfill its original promise.