Bikes in the Bay Area can have a certain cultish quality to them – for someone like me, who feels a little uneasy shifting gears and using u-locks there can be something alienating about all the fervor and all those padded, unthinkably tight shorts.
But whether you are the wind-burned owner of a sleek machine, or someone who just used a busted up Frankenstein to get beer from 7-Eleven in college, you should know about the Oakland businesses that will reward you for biking at all.
If you are a new biker in the East Bay, you may want to consider a thirty dollar year-long membership to Bike East Bay, a community advocacy group that supports bike-oriented community events and bike-friendly urban planning. Members get both the satisfaction of supporting Bike East Bay’s work, and a year of discounts at seventy local East Bay bike shops.
This seems to be the most famous bike-friendly establishment in the East Bay. The spacious bike rack in this bright, bustling beer and lounging kind of restaurant allows you to gaze lovingly at your steed the way you might your first born child. Actual Cafe was voted one of the most Bike-Friendly Business by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition in 2010, and they support local businesses with events like charity game nights.
This local, woman-owned sex shop has something for everyone, including those seeking paperback copies of Jack London novels (?!). The owner, Nenna Joiner, is beloved for her commitment to making Feelmore a welcoming space where anyone can learn more about sex and attend community-building events (like female comedy nights). Everyone who arrives by bike gets ten percent off their purchase, and there is plenty of bike parking outside.
This is a great place to meet other people who bike. The place is airy, high ceiling-ed, and redolent of delicious, bicycle-powered Bicycle coffee (featured in this article). Like Actual Cafe, this cafe features multiple indoor bike racks.
Employees here need to invent a wax that can be used both for bike tune-ups and mustaches. Don’t let the hipster feel overwhelm you: a cool workshop setup, passionate staff, free samples, on the spot brewing, and free coffee on Fridays, all make this a good addition to Oakland’s coffee options. The place also (unsurprisingly) has great bike parking and is itself run by employees on bikes. The coffee is cheap compared to nearby Blue Bottle, and the smell of the beans mixes well with the tender aroma of employees whose work does not produce fossil fuel emissions.
I’m including this because the concept itself is a gift to bikers of all stripes: this place is part art gallery, part bike shop, and host to a real live pinball machine. Yelpers rave about the customer service here, too.