At work on a bike. Photo by Laura Wenus.

Relatively flat, close to downtown, and sunny, the Mission is a particularly attractive corner of San Francisco for cyclists, and an increasingly rich mix of bike shops competes for the neighborhood’s ever-growing numbers of cyclists. While online shopping has increased, bike shops—it appears—remain more popular than ever.

When Mission Local looked at bike shops during the summer of 2009, there were six. Now, there are nine.

Don Rafa’s, Valencia Cyclery, Freewheel, and Pedal Revolution have been in the Mission since before the turn of the century. The Bike Kitchen and Box Dog appeared soon after, followed in more recent years by Treat Street Bicycle Works, Low Bicycles, Raphael’s, Kroyer’s, and a branch of Public. These last three have closed, leaving the neighborhood with a total of nine bike vendors in less than two square-miles.

Some, like Low and Raphael’s, sell specialized handmade bikes, while on the other end of the spectrum the nonprofit Pedal Revolution sells more accessible bikes while supporting a nonprofit job training program for at-risk youth. The Bike Kitchen offers visitors a place to tinker with their own bicycles with assistance from volunteers.

Specialization allows each shop to maintain its own identity and coexist peacefully in close proximity with its competitors.

And of course, with so many new cyclists on the road, as one Box Dog worker told me, “hot trends in cycling in the Mission include bicycle theft.” The SFPD’s bait bike and bike recovery programs have already helped several victims of theft and have resulted in the arrest of a few repeat offenders, but prevention is the best medicine.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has some excellent guides to locking and protecting your bike. Steve from Pedal Revolution reminds cyclists that they can register their bike at Safe Bikes, and file a police report online in the event of a theft to help return a found bike to its rightful order.

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