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Reinventing the wheels

Alive & Unedited

Reinventing the wheels

by John Ross

Columbus Alive, July 12th, 2007
Rising gas prices, environmental consciousness, fitness concerns and other motives have many in this car-centric town turning to their bicycles to get around.
To Casey Karnes, the bike messenger who opened B1 Bicycles on East Long Street earlier this year, that's a very good thing.
"[B1] is a basic independent bike shop trying to spread bicycle culture around Columbus a little more," Karnes said. "Everyone who works here has been to other cities and experienced their culture, you know, and there's so much more out there."
In addition to selling complete models and accessories, B1 offers a full-service maintenance and repair shop capable of building or mending mountain bikes, fixed-gears and everything in between.
Karnes told Alive more about braving the road less traveled.
Is being a bike courier as dangerous as it looks?
It's pretty dangerous. I can attest to that. I've been hit riding through a crosswalk, so that doesn't really count. You're not supposed to do that. I did get hit on the way to common pleas court last year. I got kind of T-boned. That wrecked a wheel, and I was pretty sore for a while. But that was the worst one ever, in like four years now.
What do you carry?
Legal documents. Almost 95 percent of the time, it's a legal filing of some sort.
 You can't send this stuff by e-mail?
Legally, they still want to have a raised seal that you can touch on an original, and an original signature that they have to have on file. The e-mail thing?you can't do it yet. Electronic signature?maybe that's the next step. And some of the things, to e-mail it or fax it will require a half-hour scan job, when we can just zip it over there.

Columbus often gets pegged as being unfriendly to bikers. Compared to other major cities, how's biking here?

The farther out of the Downtown vicinity you get, there's a lot more aggression, if you will.

The thing is, with the other cities I've biked in, it's been on weekends a lot of times, holiday times, so there's probably at least half the traffic of what it should be. I've ridden in New York City , but it was July Fourth weekend. It was dead in their terms, you know.
Opening B1 Downtown, are you catering predominately to other couriers, or are there a lot of different types of bikers coming in?
I want to try to get more people into the commuting thing, you know, riding from Bexley to work, riding from Clintonville to work. I really just want to focus on them.
You know, the messengers around here, if they want to bring their business here, I appreciate it. I just want to see more people biking, and there's just nothing around here.

Columbus is definitely a car town, but it seems bike culture has caught on a bit.

I really don't get to be out there riding around as much as I want to be. I guess in the last year, I've seen it take off a lot more, like, "Oh, there's somebody riding around I hadn't seen before." Just coming down in the mornings from the Campus area

“I used to do that. I'd see a lot more people I'd be riding with than, say, three years ago.”
It seems that once people do get on the road, they're hooked?
After being out there for a few weeks or whatever, they're like, "I feel great. I'm not so angry after work, after my 4-mile ride home." Or, "Wow, I lost a couple inches off the old waistline."
When I first got the job Downtown, I used to live on the other side of Bexley. After a month of doing that, I trimmed down quite a bit.
Watch the "Alive and Unedited" video interview




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