GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new bike shop is opening up in Grand Rapids as the city adds more biking infrastructure.
Rebel Bike Shop is set to open on 28th Street near Breton Road next month. The full-service bike store will focus on e-bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes and kids’ bikes, though Keri Leitelt said it will offer everything you’ll need for biking.
She and her husband, Newton Leitelt, are passionate bikers themselves. They ride all over the country, taking trips to places like Colorado, Montana and Washington. She said they want to bring the vibes from those states to Grand Rapids.
“We’re going to offer pretty much anything and everything for every rider. We don’t want to exclude any type of rider, so we’re going to offer all types of bikes, all type of clothing. We are going to bring something to Grand Rapids that Grand Rapids hasn’t seen before,” Keri Leitelt said.
Making the decision to open the store was the “perfect storm,” she said: The space opened up near their existing store, Emerald Spas & Billiards, which has several customers who bike.
“Rebel Bike Shop is a great fit for this center and West Michigan as a whole,” Jess McGowan with Ben Muller Realty Company, who helped get the bike shop into the space, said in a release.
Keri Leitelt said customers who are new to biking can stop in and they’ll walk them through the whole process, from figuring out which type of bike you want to figuring out sizing and styles.
“Honestly, you don’t have to know anything. You just come in and we’ll take care of the rest. We’ll make it super easy and fun,” she said.
She said they want to help whole families bike together.
“There’s some new trails coming in in East Grand Rapids. There’s Manhattan Park opening up, and that’s just going to be a great opportunity for the whole family to get bikes and experience riding,” Keri Leitelt said.
CHANGING BIKE LANDSCAPE
Not only is the Grand Rapids area getting more trails, it’s also getting more infrastructure.
Grand Rapids — which was recently ranked 31st among Michigan cities in bike friendliness by the annual survey from People for Bikes — recently installed a protected two-way bike lane in the city’s Westside, located on Turner Avenue from Richmond Street to 6th Street.
It’s something Nate DeHaan and Donovan Tesin with the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition are excited to see. They hope there will be more bicycle-friendly infrastructure installed in the future.
“I would like to see a lot more,” Tesin said. “I would love to see better-connected bike cycleways and trails.”
The two said plans are in the works for more protected bike lanes in the city.
There’s a lot going on in Grand Rapids’ bicycle community, they said, with plenty of biking groups, community rides and other organizations. Before Tesin met with News 8 Wednesday morning, he had helped with a “bike bus,” a group bringing kids to school while riding their bikes.
DeHaan, the board chair of the coalition, said there’s also a “blossoming” mountain bike community with more trails popping up.
Since the pandemic, they’ve noticed more bikers on the road — though they worry about drivers.
“As things slowly got back to normal, cars came back in force. I think there’s a consensus that drivers have gotten a little crazy post-COVID, and I think bicyclists feel that especially,” DeHaan explained. “That’s always hard for a new biker trying to commute around and feeling like cars are going too fast or there’s not enough bicycle infrastructure. So it takes some bravery, I think, and just breaking through and having confidence.”
They said they’ve also seen more bikers ready to advocate for safe and reliable infrastructure.
It can be tough to be a bicyclist in the city, they said, and there are some roads and intersections they’ve learned to avoid. That can prove difficult for people who only occasionally bike or for people who rely on their bike for transportation.
“If we have those type of individuals riding their bikes, commuting to where they want to go, they should have the infrastructure to make them feel safe,” Tesin said.
DeHaan said he hopes the protected bike lane is a “wake-up call.”
“Like, ‘Hey, these are things we can have and they’re awesome and they’re safe and they give people confidence. Let’s keep the ball rolling,'” he explained.
‘GET OUT ON THE BIKE’
Both DeHaan and Tesin, who started biking consistently so he could bird watch at state game areas, love biking.
They said they enjoy being able to get around without relying on a car: You can take in the details of the environment around you better than when you’re in a car, and it costs a lot less.
For Keri Leitelt, she enjoys the solitude and peacefulness she finds when she bikes in the woods.
“Just the quietness and time away, time just (to) get refreshed and rejuvenated, the adrenaline. You do get a lot of adrenaline when you’re cornering around a berm and going off a drop and hitting some jumps,” she said.
They all encouraged people to check out the bicycle community. DeHaan said you can reach out to the coalition to get connected.
“Get out on the bike. Try it out. Have fun,” he said.
“If you don’t have a bike, go to your local bike shop and do a test ride … (see) what kind of bike you like to ride,” Tesin added.