Hear ye! Hear ye! Oakland recognizes RTB

proclamation pic

“Whereas, Rock The Bike, located at 6323 San Pablo Avenue in North Oakland, and founded and owned by Paul Freedman, cares deeply about motivating others through fun activities to take action to help with the ongoing climate change crisis . . . . Whereas, everyone who pedals out a smoothie on a Fender Blender gets to feel the thrill of converting their muscle power to usable energy . . . . and Whereas the Oakland City Council wishes to recognize Rock The Bike, outstanding Oakland small business for the key role that they play in keeping our economy strong; now, therefore, be it . . . resolved that the Oakland City Council sincerely appreciates and extends a heartfelt thanks to Rock The Bike, and to all the small businesses located within the City limits for their investment in Oakland.”

Every year, as part of National Small Business Week, the Oakland City Council recognizes an exemplary business in each of the council districts, and this year Rock The Bike was one of them. Our council member, Dan Kalb, chose us because he’d seen us in action. He’s seen us repeatedly at Open Streets, has watched us support our community, and talked about our work in his remarks at the award ceremony: “Have you ever seen a group of people pedaling to power a concert? If you have, it was probably Rock The Bike that put it together.”

Eight of us came to the council chambers that night and enjoyed the honor, which included a printed proclamation with the seal of the city on it. In addition to thanking the council, Paul used his brief moment in the spotlight to give a shout out to No Coal in Oakland supporters waiting their turn at the mike, tying our work in one more way to climate justice. (The Council did later vote to reject the transport of coal through Oakland within a month or two of that night.)

The proclamation and recognition come 12 years into our stint as Rock The Bike – in that time we have navigated the complex world of ecommerce, globalization, and new cutting-edge trends in marketing and small manufacturing. We’ve now done business with nearly 50 countries, and managed to get our goods to every continent other than Antarctica through our relationships with our freight providers. Although small, we are available and responsive to our customers in our niche market, answering their inquiries — in their language when possible — by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, you get the picture. We’ve migrated from our initial niche in bike lighting and sound for social rides, to the new one we’ve created in event marketing. This focus has allowed us to stabilize, grow, and move to Oakland. We now serve a Who’s Who of prominent Oakland orgs and businesses including:

  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Oakland Unified School District
  • Uber
  • Bike East Bay
  • Jack London Square
  • East Bay Open Streets, and
  • the Golden State Warriors (whose playoff game against the Trailblazers we attended right after accepting the award).

We’ve also said no to certain potential clients — we’ve repeatedly refused to accept oil and gas and automotive companies who wanted to build their brand using Rock The Bike products.

Part of coming of age in a time of globalization is figuring out what works as a small biz. We’re balancing our fondness for local manufacturing with the scale enabled by our relationships with Chinese vendors and CNC fabricators. Rock The Bike makes all our Pedal Power activities here in Oakland and our Pro frames in China, now that we’ve scaled up far past our first prototypes. The flip side of globalization is that by serving customers all over the world, we bring money to Oakland that would otherwise not have come here, and provide stability for our team. We thank the City Council for seeing us navigate these trends, challenges, and opportunities. We hope to make you proud in the coming years.