Bicycles are designed for many things - performance, recreation - but also transportation. Here in North America, we all know bicycles as recreational toys or high performance competitive tools, but bikes as transportation? This category of bike has disappeared for almost a century; having lost out to the automobile. The more cities sprawled outwards, the more the bicycle became a recreational plaything or a niche performance sport. A visit to most bike stores will reveal that this is still the state of the bicycle industry today. But happily, things are changing!
Here at Fourth Floor, we helped bring about that change. We're based in Toronto, Canada; where there has always been an affluent, densely populated downtown core that required something other than a car to navigate. We're based in Toronto's Annex Neighbourhood, once home to the famous urban theorist Jane Jacobs, who called it a model neighbourhood for North America. Today we're beginning to see a resurgence of urban density that follows this model. Property values are now increased or decreased by virtue of "walk scores," which are a measure of urban proximity and intimacy. Best of all, this has brought the bicycle as transportation back in full force. After all, a bicycle can do what a car can't do; it can cut through gridlock, park anywhere, and save time, money, and health. Faster than walking or biking, a bicycle is the master of the "last mile."
But, neither a competitive racing bike nor recreational bike provide the city cyclist the right tool. Whereas the latter two bikes privilege distance, the city cyclist is most often conducting short-burst travel from point to point. And, the city cyclist needs something low maintenance, clothing friendly (all those grease stains!) and above all: safe. At Fourth Floor, we were the first to import European city bikes into North America. This began with Dutch bikes and evolved to cargo bikes. Today, our portfolio of brands represents the leaders in bicycle transportation; each brand a proven product from a mature bicycle nation - and built with the same seriousness as an automobile.
At Fourth Floor, we're engaged in a larger story, a narrative of the resurgence bikes-for-transportation in North America. Our mission is the same now as it was when we started: to give bicycles back to the people as a form of transportation. To dignify the bicycle. To make our cities healthier. To landscape and beautify our cities with people on bikes. But, more importantly, we import a different value system. Bicycles as transportation represent a different value system than the car culture that built our continent. Our bicycles insert themselves into our landscapes and cause our landscapes to change. We import the tools to make a difference. But, the real difference begins with you.
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