Re-Cycling GM Dealerships

Just over 3 years ago, we started Bike Hugger because I noticed a change in the air, a definite uptick in the amount of cyclists on the road for bike to work and wherever I ride. I had no idea at the time that the world would change so much since then. This week GM filed bankruptcy, Americans are saving more money, and quitting the new car habit. Pondering this, I tweeted:

Sure, seemingly way more complicated than in the wake of GM’s bankruptcy to tell America to buy a bike, but that’s what I’m thinking. – 8:05 AM Jun 1st from web



Could Bike Shops fill those vacant GM dealerships? Fitness centers even with massive spin classes? When the spending comes back will it arrive in the bike shop for a commuter bike?

I don’t know, but maybe a new urbanism focused on bikes will result from these economic times.


Oddly enough the (Lexus, iirc) dealership that was across from my old office was converted into a gym. That put a big smile on my face. :D

Great issue worthy of lots of ideas and discussion. A problem w/ most of these GM and Chrysler dealers is that they are giant and in the burbs. They are big enough that one cool business on their own (bike shop, bakery, nursery, whatever) can’t just come in and set up a business that can sustain the space.

That isn’t to say they can’t be made useful but it’s going to take some serious planning to get the right mix of folks and energy in the spaces to make it happen.

I’ve wondered if some of these places couldn’t be converted into work/live spaces—kind of like a sprawling rainier brewery project.

There was a really good article—I want to say it was an NPR bit, but I can’t find it—that covered re-purposing of dealerships and beyond (like big-box stores, too). I’ll keep looking, but in the meantime here are a couple others I ran across.


This use of disused dealerships is an inspiring idea. Even if it’s not practical to switch them over to bike parking/shops/spinning classes, the thought of spending shifting from petroleum-fuel transportation to human-powered travel is uplifting. Getting the cultural norms, infrastructure, and economic incentives moving to a place that supports mainstream cycling will take a lot of work. You can read more of my thoughts on a recent series of posts on promoting cycling as a viable transportation alternative.

This happened in Vancouver BC years ago when MEC (Canadian REI) took over one of the big car dealerships on Broadway for their flagship store.  An appropriate recycling of a dinosaur for a more benign environmental purpose.

Here in Seattle—a dealership went out of business before the economy crashed and it sits there to this day empty. It lost business after [a criminal case](

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