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BicycleSPACE pop-up in former Burger King up and running

From left: BicycleSPACE co-founders Phil Koopman and Erik Kugler with GM David Dorn

BicycleSPACE co-owner Erik Kugler is savoring Washington’s relatively snowless winter.
For one thing, no blizzard is hampering the pace of the buildout of 440 K Street NW, the bike shop’s future Mount Vernon Triangle home, where bike repairs, sales and rentals will be on the menu.
For another, the group bike rides Kugler and his colleagues lead around various D.C. neighborhoods are filling up as nicely now as they did on those perfect October 2014 days gone by.
“We do these moonlight rides around the city,” stopping for a picnic in the dark, says Kugler, an Annandale native who spent several years backpacking the globe, then living in California.  “Washington is really spectacular at night.” In the warmer weather, anyone can join a daytime group ride, with popsicles for all bikers and a sound trailer for aural inspiration.
Since January 3, BicycleSPACE has been ensconced in a pop-up shop at 700 5th Street NW, where a Burger King used to be. Several Capital Bikeshare docks dot the area, but in no way do Kugler and his partner Phil Koopman view the bike-rental upstart as competition.
On the contrary, “Bikeshare normalizes using a bike as transportation,” Kugler says. “It has changed the mindset of lots of ordinary people. They now see the benefits of going a few blocks via bike, or biking from one end of Massachusetts Avenue to the other.”
Come April, when 440 K opens, Kugler and company will be realizing a long-held dream. “Our game plan since the beginning was to have a permanent home in Mount Vernon Triangle,” he says, citing the neighborhood’s recent influx of bike-riders and high-rises alike. He lives in City Center, he says, and it will take all of three minutes to jet to work on his folding commuter bike once the new store opens.
D.C. is an ideal biking town, Kugler explains.
“It’s flat,” he says. “And there’s not an excess of speed because the streets are broken up with stop lights and stop signs. There are a lot of smart and progressive people in this town who are coming to intern or to work.
“Bikes are a great way to meet other people. Biking is a social thing, a healthy thing.” Lots of them take part on BicycleSPACE’s group rides.
By the way, BicycleSPACE is not new to the area. It was just arguably a bit harder to keep track of, having been first located at 459 I Street NW, then 1019 7th Street NW. Landlords selling the buildings forced BicycleSPACE to relocate more than once. “We have been in the neighborhood within a few blocks of [our future permanent site] for almost three years,” Kugler says. Yet “we have people coming in all the time and saying this is the first time they have been inside.”
The next BicycleSPACE opening is planned for June, when the store’s Ivy City outpost opens.
Kugler, incidentally, is a Certified Public Accountant who flunked the notoriously difficult CPA licensing exam the first time he took it in the 80s.
What a difference a decade makes.
“When I took it again in '95, everything clicked because bicycles [had become] my frame of reference, and I believed in what I was doing.”

Read more articles by Amy Rogers Nazarov.

Amy Rogers Nazarov is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with more than 25 years experience as a staff reporter and a freelance writer, covering technology, adoption, real estate, and lifestyle topics from food & drink to home organizing. Her byline has appeared in Cooking Light, The Washington Post, Slate, Washingtonian, The Writer, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Express, The Baltimore Examiner, The Sacramento Bee, Cure, The Washington Times, Museum, and many other outlets. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and tweets at @WordKitchenDC.
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