Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bicycle-Related Careers

Ever thought about a career that relates to bicycles, but don't know where to look or get started? Some jobs require a college degree or post-graduate education while others are more about having "handy" technical skills. There are many different ways to make a living supporting bicycle riding in your local community! The list below contains just some of the different bike-related jobs people hold.

Bicycle Mechanic.  Love taking things apart...and then (successfully) putting them back together? A good bike mechanic is critical to have in the local community - and more than one! Having a couple of reliable places to get your bi-annual tune-up or to get work done can be a huge asset. If you enjoy making a fine-tuned machines whirl, consider this growing field.

Bike mechanic at work.

Sales Associate.  Enjoy working with people and helping them find what they need? Then working at a bike shop or speciality store may be for you. Everyone likes a honest, straight-forward salesperson, and working to help someone find their ideal bike can be life-changing experience. People are looking for that bicycle that will fit their riding needs, habits and aspirations. Being the person that can identify the bicycle that is the"right fit" for someone else is empowering someone to have fun, be independent and engage in a healthy lifestyle.

Bicycle Designer.  For those who are like to draw, create or fabricate, consider a career in designing bicycles. Bikes today range from the mundane and manufactured to the wild and wonderful. Some folks are looking for a unique ride that fits their needs or has them standing out in a crowd. Also consider that some people will pay big bucks to have a taylor-made bike. Developing a signature style and well-made product is a realistic, lucrative, growing field.

Urban/Bicycle Planner.  As a "big-picture" thinker, planners are charged with consider the opportunities, challenges, issues and threats as they work on master plans that are the living document that guides future decisions and developments. By bringing stakeholders together, engaging the public, maneuvering within (or dodging around) the politics of a community and (perhaps most importantly) reviewing and analyzing the data, big plans are created to inspire communities to make dreams a reality. The development of a bikeway network that includes a linked system of bike lanes, shared roadways, cycle tracks and paths more than likely came from a community master bike, pedestrian or recreation plan. (Bikeway developments in Easley, Greenville, Rock Hill and Clemson University are a result of master plans.) As a planner, I enjoy bringing people together to address an identified need to problem-solve. If these kinds of thing sound interesting, consider a career in planning.

Planners and Landscape Architects at work.

Landscape Architect.  Another outlet for the creative type is a career in landscape architecture. Taking the ideas of the plan, landscape architects give shape, form and unique characteristics to specific locations identified in master planning documents. Is there a particular park that you just love, a public space or maybe a path that speaks to you? These places didn't just happen, but were the result of a designer's tireless efforts. Planners and Landscape Architects generally work together - the yin and yang, many times - of bikeway planning.

Civil or Traffic Engineer.  Interested in the technical "nuts and bolts" of road or bikeway design speculations? Want to make great networks come to life by focusing on the technical details? If you are a data driven, mathematical mind-ed individual, a career in civil engineering might be for you. While the planners take a look at the big picture and the landscape architects design the areas to create inviting, special places, "civies" as they are also known work on making the plans pop to life, making the jump from idea to specifics. Detail-oriented, engineers are taught the specifics on transportation (aka road, bike and pathway) network design. Working for consulting firms or State Departments of Transportation, having a strong knowledge base in bikeway development is important for an engineer to support the evolving needs of society's transportation culture.

Restaurant Owner/Grocery Store/Small Business.  Opening up a restaurant, grocery store or other small businesses near a bike path or along a bike route will surely get some pedal traffic. Setting up a few tables and chairs outside along with adding bike racks near-by will encourage a bike-friendly ambience. Specialize is merchandise that's easy to carry on a bike. Entice bike-traffic by joining Bicycle Benefits. Advertise with local bike-clubs or a bike shops or organize a bike ride where your business is a destination, and the potential for steady clientele is highly likely.

This list is meant to be just a sampling of bicycle-related careers, but it should give you a good idea on some different avenues to explore. For more information on any of these fields consider reaching out to a local professional in one of these fields for more information. (For any potential planners out there, I'd love to answer any questions you may have!)

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