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December 10, 2008



Hi MEC! Hooray for bikes - I hope you can help bring "practical" bikes into North America. In most countries outside of this continent, bicycles are a realistic way of getting around, in part because the bicycle is not seen as a piece of "sports equipment" but instead as a practical form of transportation and bikes are designed with that in mind. Outside of North America, the streets / neighbourhoods are designed differently too (which helps biking be safer and more practical), but bicycle design also plays a big role! Cargo bikes like the Bakfietsen and longtails like the Xtracycle help bicycles become realistic options for buying loads of groceries, carrying passengers, etc., and aren't as much of a hassle as trailers (that need to be stored separately, attached, you need to know before you go that you'll need it...). Some great sources of more info are Rain City Bikes in Vancouver ( - very close to the MEC store!) and Clever Cycles in Portland (, they have a really informative website. I'm not affiliated with either of these - I just independently found out about cargo bikes and built myself a longtail over the past year and I LOVE it :)
The more we can bring realistic, practical, forms of physical activity back into normal life (eg. normalizing bike use, not hiding stairs behind scary doors that say "Do not use! Alarm will ring!!", demonstrating walking and biking to our children as a normal way to get where you need to go), the better off we'll ALL be. But it needs to be a normal part of life, because for most people it's too difficult to change behaviours unless the change is driven by the social and built environment around us. Thanks, MEC, for helping to change the social environment :)


a follow-up to my earlier comment...

I just noticed a separate topic on this blog about bicycle manufacture and wanted to "update" my comments!

I try to buy all my goods (food, clothing, whatever) as locally-made as possible. Unfortunately, the frame for the longtail I built was not made in North America - I purchased a purpose-built longtail frame made by Surly (in Taiwan), it was one of only a few options for a purpose-built longtail, all of which were made in Asian countries. I wish I had had the means to purchase a custom-built frame made by someone in the US or Canada...

However, for as many of the other components as possible, I purchased "made in North America", or in Western Europe. It made my bike expensive, yes, but this bicycle is a car-replacement, and it's still FAR cheaper than a car (both in initial cost and utilization costs).

Some of these "special" bike components were surprisingly difficult to obtain - I worked with a local bike shop as much as possible, but there were a lot of products they were not able to get (due to supplier conflicts among bike shops - I wasn't entirely clear about where the hold-up was). Maybe this could be a role MEC could play, bringing more "Made in North America" (or at least "made ethically") bike components to consumers.

I built my bike through a "build a bike" program at my local bike shop. I think MEC could also host programs like this - not to take business away from local bike shops, but to increase knowledge and visibility of such programs (and I know my bike shop had a lot more people wanting to participate than it could provide for). Being engaged in building your own bicycle is another way to "normalize" bicycles as a realistic means of transportation. It's also a heck of a lot of fun! Frustrating, at times, but what great thing isn't :)


Congrats on building a bike according to those standards. I'm sure that it is not easy. However, would suggest a minor shift in your approach.

It is widely held that one of, if not the, most effective ways of helping developing countries is by investing in their economies. Without getting into a long discussion of development economics, I think that it is fair to say that if "Made in North America/Western Europe" (read: made in the developed world) policies were to be widely adapted, the consequences for the developing world would stretch far past the borders of economy. Therefore, as you mentioned, I would suggest that a "made ethically" policy is of far greater value than the alternative. (This could also help to keep the cost down significantly).


Hi Katie,

Thanks for the tip abou the bike build program. Being a bike commuter for the past ten years, this is something I would be interested in.

Perhaps when the bike shops and bike line is launched and settled in, MEC can pursue what you're describing.



Hi Rich,

Thanks for the insight. I couldn't agree more. The path for a better tomorrow for the developing world is tied to economic development. Regrettably, this path in conjunction with Western capitalism is driving our planet to doom. Global warming is the direct consequence of global industrialization. Our great life style in the West is the direct benefit of industrialization, a life envied and soon to be copied by the South and East.

Depressing and perplexing in many ways.

P. Dinsdale

So, what is the timing for MEC to sell bikes? My wife and I are looking to buy bikes this year, and would like to consider yours!


Hi P

We hope to have bikes in the Van store by Nov and for the other stores by Feb09.


Rebecca Irani

Going back to the original blog, I have some interesting facts about Metro Vancouver:

In Metro Vancouver, 77% of all trips are by car.
We need to create a region where driving a car is an option and not a necessity. Getting people on bikes or walking is key!

By 2040, there could be over 1 million more people living in Metro Vancouver.To avoid urban sprawl and the possibility of 600,000 more cars, we need to create transportation options that enable smarter travel choices.

TransLink which is actually responsible for most bike paths around the city has actually invested $20 million since 2005 to improve cycling options.

They're facilitating a discussion and seeking input from everyone at the moment at I think it's key we take the time to be part of that discussion to ensure that cycling options continue to be a priority and at the top of the agenda

d Me

I hope MEC can start selling a good urban style bike affordable for the everyday person. I am really dissapointed at the MEC store in Halifax, where on the outside of the building there is signs indicating the store was located in a easily reached area of the city, assessable by bikes. As a matter of fact there is two signs giving the virtue of bicycles. Then, there is only one bike stand that holds 2 bikes. Everytime i go to the store, the bike rack is full and I need to find a road sign or trash bin to lock my bike too. MEC needs to preach what it praises, along with us consumers.

stewart  ford

I think that is a mistake for MEC to start selling bikes. All the cities where MEC operates have plenty of bike stores. In vancouver there are three bike stores within one city block; there are six within 10 blocks. I am sure the same is true in the other cities as well. The little bike shops are not the enemy! We don't need to act like a big box store! We don't need to take all the business from the little guys! Every MEC member can already buy a great bike, of whatever style, at a good price from one of the many bike stores in the area, and this is true in Ottawa, Calgary, TO, Halifax etc. I don't believe that the reason MEC members don't ride their bikes is because they can't ride without a MEC logo. I think that community bike stores are important to support community bicycling and that we will be undermining them by taking essential business away. If you are a MEC member and you haven't been able to find a great bike yet, I don't think you have been trying.



Why are some of the bicycle statements no longer available? Foe example
Thank you in advance for your answer


Hi Bob,

Thank you for your comment. I've voluntarily removed the blog because there is a conversation needing to be had between MEC and the bike association.

My blog comments are mine. They are not corporate messaging. To this end, I can and will pull a message when it doesn't contribute to a deeper dialogue.

Part of this conversation centers on the challenges facing all factories in the world. That is a discussion I look forward to having with all parties.


I don't buy into the global warming, CO2, climate change myth. What I do buy into is cycling is a great form of exercise and it gets me to work, both at the same time. If MEC is going to compete with other bike stores, and MEC has tax free earning status, this is an unethical and unfair move on their part.


"As a co-operative MEC and its members do not pay corporate tax on patronage returns re-invested in the co-operative. MEC is thus able to re-investment its surpluses into capital projects (new stores, etc.) while paying little or no corporate income tax.

This preferential tax treatment affords MEC a huge competitive advantage that permeates its entire business whether from building new stores to pricing based on ever increasing buying power – it is this preferential tax advantage that poses unfair competition to independent bicycle dealers."


Hi BR,

Thanks for your thoughts. As I've said in the past to other bloggers who share the same view as you in regard to global warming, I dearly hope you're right but if you're wrong, we as a global humanity are going for one heck of a ride.



Bringing in bicycles to MEC will force out the smaller shops and in turn force me to commute to the downtown MEC location by means of driving my car. While as apposed to me walking to the local shop down the road and getting the parts & bike I need.

Peter Onyschuk

Tax is only collected on profit. Any small business can allocate profit in the same way as MEC in order to gain this "tax advantage".

Jim Palmer

As a long time MEC member, I DO NOT support the move into bikes and bike servicing. Leave this to the existing bike shops that already serve us very well.

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