Wheelhouse Detroit, a bike rental, service shop, to open on the RiverWalk in May

Wheelhouse Detroit — a bike rental and repair shop — is coming to Rivard Plaza on the RiverWalk at the beginning of May.

Owners Karen Gage and Kelli B. Kavanaugh plan to start operations as early as May 2, to coincide with the carousel's opening for the season. (Editor's note: Kavanaugh is Model D's Development News writer.)

Wheelhouse will rent bikes, offer guided tours of the city, sell bike accessories (like horns, helmets and lights), and do bike repairs.

The success of the Tour de Troit event, which Kavanaugh and Gage helped to organize and attracted 600 people last year, inspired the two hopeful entrepreneurs, who had been discussing what kind of business to open. "We kind of just looked at each other and said: 'bikes,'" Kavanaugh says.

They approached the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy about the Rivard Plaza location, and sought funding through the Detroit Micro-Enterprise Fund. Kavanaugh says the fund, which helps small businesses start up and expand in the city, was invaluable to getting their business off the ground.

The Wheelhouse will be open Friday through Sunday until Memorial Day weekend, and daily after that. They will offer hourly rentals — starting at $15 for two hours — as well as daylong, weekly and weekend packages.

Bikes for rent will include:
• simple cruisers, city or hybrid mountain bikes, and road bikes – "for people who really want to ride," Kavanaugh says;
• plus tag-alongs, trailers and kids bikes.

Along with Inside Detroit, they will offer tours of downtown and Midtown, as well as special tour events in other neighborhoods. "People want to get bikers into their neighborhoods. We're working with businesses that we already know to be bike friendly," she says.

"Detroit is not a dense city, so in many ways it is better to get around on a bike than walk," Kavanaugh says. "Corktown to Midtown is less than 10 minutes on a bike, so it can be better to bike than drive."

The Wheelhouse will offer something visitors expect from a city. "You go to big cities, and you expect to be able to rent a bike. It's an amenity that Detroit needs to offer," Kavanaugh says.

For more information, e-mail [email protected] or go to www.wheelhousedetroit.com.

Writer: Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey
Source: Kelli B. Kavanaugh, Wheelhouse Detroit

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