If you’ve been paying attention since the start of the pandemic, you might have noticed a lot more people riding bikes than usual. Indeed, with folks stuck at home, and many activities off limits during COVID-necessitated shutdowns, a lot of folks got back to doing one for the things that wasn’t forbidden and was actually fun : riding a bike. By one estimate, cycling in urban areas was up at least 25% in the first half of 2020, while trail riding increased 100%. Stores that sell bikes and cycling gear, still have waiting lists and backlogs. It’s a a good time to be in the bike business.
James Newkirk is operations manager of Ride Gotcha by Bolt, an app-based electric bicycle rental company, that began operating in 2019 and has 500 GPS-enabled e-bikes and 50 mobility hubs across Baton Rouge. The local Baton Rouge operation is part of a national company, Gotcha, which operates its app-based mobile bike rental service in 25 states and over 50 cities.
James is something of a natural to be heading the local service. He’s a native of Baton Rouge and has worked in bicycle shops and raced bicycles for most of his life. He also was a volunteer for the non-profit Front Yard Bikes, which we featured on this show a few months ago, and he managed the Front Yard Bikes shop before joining Gotcha in 2019.
Chuck Daniel is owner of Geaux Ride, a local company that rents glow-in-the-dark bicycles for nightly bike rides and bike tours of downtown Baton Rouge. The tours are a great way to get out and see the city and stay in shape and they’re popular with groups looking for themed parties and events.