Among LSU’s most historic near-campus businesses is The Bicycle Shop, which sits between the original Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and a few windows to the right of The Varsity Theatre on Highland Road.
The Bicycle Shop sells new bicycles and various accessories for riding, from clothing and equipment to bike racks for vehicles. It also services and repairs anything and everything in relation to a bicycle.
The Bicycle Shop has remained in its current location for about 30 years, supporting decades of students in all their bicycle transportation needs. As many businesses have failed to survive surrounding the University, owner of the shop, Tom Townsend, said the relationships made with customers and the quality of service have been major factors in keeping the business afloat.
“I think the level of service that we provide has kept us here for so long,” Townsend said. “We still have customers that come by that were in school here. Now their kids are in school, and they come by just to say ‘when I was back in school, I bought my first bike here,’ or something like that.”
Being so close to campus, Townsend said breaks and holidays when students are away definitely affect the business' traffic.
“Our business changes from summer to school time. It is much slower in those periods [breaks], like Christmas for example. When they [students] go home, things slow down,” Townsend said. “It also changes in that the rest of the city can find parking, so they’ll start to come in more during those periods.”
While the location of the shop may affect its seasonal traffic, it is a key factor in the store's success due to the nature of the city of Baton Rouge, where biking is not a common form of transportation.
“It’s a great location, from a city standpoint, for people that actually commute on bikes because this area is one of the few that is safely commutable,” Townsend said.
In regard to campus and pedestrian safety, the University has had quite a few incidents in the semester thus far, including a student death in September involving a skateboarding accident. Townsend said the store offers all of the accessories, bells and whistles for bike riding, but he rarely sees students who use helmets when riding their bicycles.
“We tell people all the time that it doesn’t take much of a fall to cause really serious problems, and yet we don’t see many people riding around campus with helmets,” Townsend said.
As commuting around campus has become increasingly dangerous, The Bicycle Shop encourages all bike riders to use helmets and be vigilant when riding.