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Man runs business with bike

Coloradoan, January 19, 2008

By Cari Merrill

The post office isn't the only courier service to deliver in rain, sleet, sun and snow.

No matter how cold, no matter how snowy, no matter how windy, Rob Martin can be seen riding his bike around town, making deliveries for local businesses or picking up recycling. One of his primary jobs is transporting bagels from Gib's to participating coffee shops in Old Town.

"It's a labor of love," Martin said Monday, working through the swirling afternoon wind.

Martin started his bike courier service three years ago after the Downtown Business Association approached him to help provide recycling for some downtown businesses that didn't have enough recycling to justify paying for a Dumpster.

But Martin's main reason for getting involved wasn't the business; his main motivator was to help the environment.

"Every trip I make is one less car on the road or in some cases, one less truck," he said while collecting recycling at Lyric Cinema Café in Old Town, the fourth stop on his recycling rounds that day. "I want to be part of the solution."

So each morning, Martin hops on his bike to pick up bagels from Gib's and deliver them to Old Town coffee shops.

He takes a late-morning break around 10 for breakfast before getting back on his bike to travel around town doing jobs, such as delivering documents or refilling brochures on "for sale" signs in front of houses.

After a lunch break, he continues his day with recycling duties, usually finishing by sundown.

A local business itself, owners of the Lyric Cinema Café in Old Town appreciate the local aspect of Martin's business.

"We try and support those people (local businesses) as much as possible," said Ben Mozer, co-owner of the Lyric Cinema Café. The movie theater/café uses Martin's business to pick up cardboard and bottles for recycling.

Although his price sheet lists routine services, such as deliveries, pickups, recycling and bike maintenance, that doesn't mean Martin hasn't been approached with some unusual requests.

He's served court papers, been asked to make a run to the liquor store for a box of wine - a trip he declined - and it's a running joke that his trailer could substitute for a more environmentally friendly hearse.

But on the more normal side, businesses use his courier service to deliver proofs for magazines, birthday cakes from the Olive Street Bakery and packages.

He delivered the Be Local Coupon books to the Sustainable Living Fair in September, hauling almost 600 pounds in a single trip.

But to coincide with his environmentally friendly mission, Martin also does quite a few recycling runs, loading up his bike trailer with cardboard, bottles and other recyclables.

As part of the Brown Bottle Recycling Program through the city's Natural Resources Department, Martin collects brown bottles from Old Town bars and restaurants and drops them off at New Belgium Brewery for recycling. Those trips usually find Martin pulling roughly 400 pounds on the back of his bike, he estimates.

But riding his bike doesn't stop at his business. He uses his bike for personal errands, too. This summer, he loaded all of his belongings into his bike trailer, including his mattress, when he moved five blocks.

But Martin's focus is on the biking rather than the business aspect. He'd like to expand his business and hire employees but with that comes worries of insurance and liability.

"The work is easy," he said. "It's running a business that's hard."




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