As the growth of downtown continues to explode, so does the need for commuter-friendly transportation alternatives — enter the bike. Granted, it's nothing new, save for Lance Armstrong's recent unveiling of plans for a commuter biker shop.
According to Armstrong, "This city is exploding downtown. Are all these people in high rises going to drive everywhere? We have to promote (bike) commuting."
Mellow Johnny's, based on the nickname Armstrong earned while wearing the yellow jersey, will serve as a bike shop, commuting center, training facility and cafe. Showers and a locker room will provide commuters a chance to clean up, store their bikes at the shop, and catch a ride on a pedicab or walk the rest of the way to work.
Located near La Zona Rosa, the 18,000-sq-ft building—painted in yellow and black, of course—plans to open in May. While this can easily be characterized as just another bike shop, partner Bart Knaggs is quick to articulate the macro-level vision:
"There's a bigger ambition we're going to go for here. It's not like there's not a good bike shop in town. We want to add something to the community that will catalyze interest around riding bikes, about being bike friendly and folding it into life in Austin," Knaggs said.
Will this serve as yet another destination for the diehard gearheads of the city? Or will it really serve as a user-friendly gateway for rookie riders? Based on the "Armstrong effect," there's a decent chance this could be the turning point in making Austin a true bike commuter city.