Wise 50 Over 50 Award™
Chris & Laura Grant – Alberta Bike Swap
Chris and I saw each other while cycle commuting one cold January morning and met at the bike racks, we’ve been together since. In real life, Chris is a retired instrumentation engineer. He calls himself a barnyard engineer because he can take anything apart and redesign it so that it works better. Chris is working on an RV security product that he designed, so his retirement in May 2019 was short lived and he’s busier than ever. Before I retired, I was a software product analyst designing GIS-based ESRI platform cumulative effect software, which was amazing futuristic software and interesting work before the company went bankrupt.
Chris and I had been going to police auctions for years and buying bikes that Chris repaired to give away for the price of parts. We eventually had too many bikes in our garage, and our friends stopped answering the phone when we called, so we advertised online. The potential buyer looked at everything else in our garage except the bike we were selling, and we were robbed, more than once. That same week I’d gone out with a girlfriend to buy a bike that was advertised online. The bike being sold was one tenth of its value, and we didn’t feel safe in that unfurnished basement. Most things in life involve three things; education, enforcement, and engineering. Though our municipalities spend millions on cycling infrastructure (engineering), we spend little to nothing on education or enforcement. We don’t teach people to cycle safely to or from cycling infrastructure and nothing on how to use the infrastructure.
As long-time cyclists, we saw a gap in cycling safety; both in buying and selling, but also in education. At the age of 51, we sketched out a safe way to sell, buy, and donate bikes and came up with Alberta Bike Swap.
We originally funded the swaps out of our work salaries and life savings, and we’ve always donated more than half the profit back to the community to fund safe cycling and help other non-profits. Chris designed and we patented a transportable bike rack that we use at our events. We also built these bike racks for community use in 2012 and give those away for free. There was no software for our type of event, so we designed our own software. Our events grow by 25-40% a year, so we had to improve our processes to match the growth. We’re taking our software and processes to the global market within the next few months.
We have over 35 strategic alliances; as big as CAA / AMA (Canadian Automobile Association / Alberta Motor Association) and as small as Bikes for Badgers. We provide transportation security, fund safe cycling, provide low carbon transportation and make a significant impact.