Photo: Steve Jackson
The year 2020 was unlike any other. Finding ways for New Yorkers to come together in person proved a challenging but rewarding task—one that accompanied an unequivocal, burgeoning sense of community. New social clubs like Good Co. Bike Club sprang up and helped lead the way.
The Brooklyn-based organization held countless rides throughout NYC last year, creating a fun, inclusive environment and a mental and physical outlet open to all levels of cyclists. And though open to riders of all backgrounds, Good Co. specifically caters to Black New Yorkers. Filling a void for connection in the height of the pandemic fast-tracked Good Co.’s growth, with brand evangelists across the five boroughs.
We caught up with Shari Brown, Good Co.’s chief marketing officer and a native of Brownsville, Brooklyn, to discuss the club, its ties to NYC and its work in supporting the City’s small and Black-owned businesses.
Shari Brown. Photo: Steve Jackson
How was Good Co. Bike Club formed and what is the organization’s goal?
Shari Brown: The concept of Good Co. was thought up by Andrew Bennett, the CEO of the company. In late spring 2020, Andrew started organizing potential bike riders via GroupMe, and friends of friends started to add each other to the group to meet up and just ride. It happened very organically and eventually became more official and organized through our team. Aside from Andrew, there are three additional members on our executive board—Marv Marcel, Milly Louis and myself—who made Good Co. what it is today. The executive board is 50-50 women and men. It was important to us to ensure that if we are preaching inclusivity and diversity, we represent what we want to see.
Our mission is to change the narrative of cycling, as it has always been seen as a white male activity. We started Good Co. as a way to connect with our friends during the height of the global pandemic. We ended up fostering a community within New York City, using the joy of cycling as a catalyst to bridge the Black inner-city community. Now, we promote safety and positivity and advocate for inclusivity for all cyclists, while also creating physical and digital partnerships with local businesses and policy makers.
We’ve recently partnered with Schwinn to amplify the message of diversity and inclusion. Both companies will work with local businesses and advocacy programs elsewhere in the country to advance Black culture in cycling.
What role do you think Good Co. played in helping New Yorkers get through 2020?
SB: Biking has so many health and wellness benefits—more than we realized at the time. We carved a space for people to safely exercise, socialize and clear their head all while on a bike. Our Good Co. community is majority Black people, and that isn’t a coincidence. As we all battled the new normal of the pandemic, we were simultaneously hit with so many nationally recognized racial injustices and murders and were in the height of the BLM movement—we needed each other more than ever.
We had random strangers join us and thank us for creating the space for them to just be among people that looked like them and shared their love of biking. Our largest ride event was on Juneteenth. With all of the protests happening during that time, we created A Freedom Ride to celebrate Black American emancipation and give people hope. With the amazing support of the Brooklyn borough president, Eric Adams, this ride attracted over 1,500 bikers throughout Brooklyn and served as the celebration we all didn’t know we needed.
How does your membership work?
SB: Our members pay a monthly fee through Patreon. They are then invited to a private forum where they can engage with other members, receive (virtual and in-person) event invites and get perks supplied by our local business partners. They also receive access to our monthly newsletters, giveaways and discounts to branded merchandise.
Photo: Steve Jackson
On many of your bike routes, you’ve partnered with small businesses, stopped for food and drink specials and even had mini-events within the stops. Tell us about that concept and how that has impacted businesses in need.
SB: It started with needing a spot to grab a bite to eat that would accommodate a group of cyclists. Once businesses realized that we always had a large group with us, they found ways to ensure we were serviced. We then realized some of our favorite spots were going out of business due to Covid, so we decided to create a partnership model that guaranteed business to those that we onboarded. To test it, we had Drip BK, Gold Room and Rustik Tavern, Black-owned spots along Rogers Avenue, serve as “hydration stations” during our Juneteenth ride, encouraging our riders to patronize these businesses. Now, Drip BK, 333 Lounge, IV Purpose and High Vibrations Juice Bar are all official partners of Good Co.
What does Good Co. Bike Club look like now that it’s winter, and what are the plans for spring?
SB: During the winter months we pivoted more toward virtual events. We partnered with a few brands to host virtual liquor tastings and virtual bike-education sessions. Some of our members even created subgroups within the forum, such as a Good Co. book club and networking sessions. As weather permits, we will focus more on the outdoor riding experience, but it’s safe to say that we are more than just a bike club.
Describe your connection to NYC in three words.
SB: Lit. Love. Home.
Clockwise from left: Shari Brown, CMO; Marv Marcel, CCO; Andrew Bennett, CEO; and Milly Louis, COO. Photo: Steve Jackson
Roosevelt Island It’s a hidden gem of NYC that people seldom visit and one of Marv’s favorite places. You get great views of both Queens and Manhattan.
Brooklyn Museum It has become synonymous with each ride, since the steps usually serve as our meeting point. It’s also a Brooklyn institution.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade We hosted our first wellness meditation here, and since then we’ve gone to the promenade to just hang with each other. They also have great bike lanes.
Drip BK Black-owned Caribbean café-style eats with a twist. Tell Mitch, the owner, that we sent you!
Nuevo Mexico Some of the best tacos and one of the first Good Co. group ride stops that showed us love.
BKLYN Blend Black-owned and some amazing smoothies. Oh, and you have to try their Park Slope salmon sandwich.
333 Lounge Black-owned lounge that is open for outside happy hour. Great vibes and amazing frozen margaritas.
Rogers Garden Black-owned Caribbean backyard vibes. The drinks are so good, and sometimes they even have someone there grilling jerk chicken.
IV Purpose If you like sports, this Black-owned spot is it. They set up viewing tables outside to watch any game on their massive screen. A vibe on Fulton!
Fort Greene Park We make the vibes here. This is a Good Co. stomping ground. We held our [Labor Day weekend] Bike Fete here and it also served as the final stop on our Juneteenth Freedom Ride.