Citybikes was founded in 1986, after a worker split from the Bicycle Repair Collective with designs on starting a bike shop catering to the three-speed city rider. Sharing a storefront with the Bicycle Commuter Service, Citybikes became a repair shop and clubhouse for commuting and touring cyclists. Maps adorned the walls, and comfy chairs and a library welcomed visitors.
Five years later, the owner had tired of a sole proprietorship and was realizing the advantages of the collective structure. He decided to sell the business to the current workers and encouraged them to form a cooperative. When a coop-enthusiastic worker joined, some resistance to taking responsibility for the shop lessened, and by the end of 1989, Citybikes was ready to incorporate. He sold the business for $12,000 to the five workers, and they formed Citybikes Workers’ Cooperative on January 1, 1990.y 1, 1990.
Flats were fixed, hubs overhauled, fenders installed, and business was chugging along. After a few years working at another shop, the founder returned to become a part of the cooperative. It became apparent in the mid-90s that Citybikes had outgrown its home. At a breakfast meeting the morning after touring a possible space, we decided to rent it. Bike sales and rentals readily filled the new space. We shared the building with a printing shop, and when they vacated three years later, we hosted the World Naked Bike Ride during Bikesummer, and then we moved our stock into our current warehouse.
The repair shop building has remained our home since
Citybikes has been a worker-owned cooperative since 1990. In a nutshell, this means that the workers own and run the business. We share responsibility and profit equally among the worker-owners.
Citybikes currently has about 25 workers, 11 of whom are co-owners. Because we are equals, Citybikes has no managers. We run the business through a series of monthly committee meetings, at which we practice consensus decision-making. We share all tasks, from pondering which product lines to carry, to mantaining the buildings, to mopping the floor. Everyone that works at Citybikes is a trained mechanic, even our bookkeeper.