As an idea, food trucks, or any kind of truck just wheeling around town dispensing services, is a really agreeable thing. There’s something about the marriage of mobility and commerce, no matter what the service, that appeals.
Even better is when that mobility serves a kind of commerce devoted to a yet better kind of mobility.
Recently, CTV News reported the story of a former bike messenger who, some years ago, opened up a mobile bike shop, an enterprise he embarked upon after exploring the idea of sustainable, small-scale, and mobile businesses. Joe Nunn — whose “bike truck,” if you will, is called Joe’s Garage — doesn’t just offer bike repairs from his familiar-looking vehicle, but through various “community tools,” the knowledge for commuting cyclists to do the job themselves.
Having spent a while, CTV News reported, with shop very visibly established on the Bow River bikeway has been a huge boost for cycling in Calgary, riders say. Marcus Michel, a cyclist described by the CBC as among the ranks of the city’s bike couriers, said, “Having Joe on the pathway has been a total lifesaver. Most of the stores don’t open until 10, and our problems with our bikes don’t always happen when the stores are open.”
For Nunn’s bike truck to be there during the winter, Michel added, would be even better. The courier seemed skeptical of that likelihood, though. “It would be nice if he was out here in the winter, too,” Michel said, “but I don’t think his vehicle is insulated for that kind of weather.”
Nunn’s business model certainly reflects the reality of the bike seasons in what, at times, can feel like one of the coldest cities in Canada. A big part of using a mobile model for his services, he explained, was that it allows him to operate with minimal associated costs — something vital, he said, to the seasonal nature of what he does. “In most of Canada, the nature of the bike season, at least the bike repair season, is five to seven months,” he said.
Recently, Calgary has seen growth in available bike infrastructure. A result, having even further knock-on effects, has been a surge in a civic interest in cycling itself, with more and more riders taking to the streets — something being seen increasingly in recent years. With that pattern developing, Nunn expects there will be more room in the industry for mobile bike shops like his, he told the CTV.