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Light Street Bicycles in Federal Hill to close after 28 years

Light Street Bicycles is closing after 28 years in Federal Hill, the owner announced Monday.

The building at 1124 Light St. is being sold, and the record rainfall this summer, combined with increased competition from online retailers and the most miserable Orioles season in history, made for a particularly uphill year for bicycle sales and tours, said the owner, Penny Troutner.

“I’ve had a pretty difficult year,” Troutner said. “So much of this business is really based on the weather. Events will be canceled, and people are less likely to want to buy a bike if every weekend is rainy.”

Despite the store’s impending closure, she hopes to continue the Baltimore Bike Tours she has offered for the past few years. But the tours, too, have taken a hit — especially from the rain and the Orioles’ woes, she said.

“It was so bad that the tour agency I use for booking called me to say, ‘What’s up?’ ” Troutner said. “Compared to last year, [when] business was on the rise.”

She also blamed some of the lack of business on Baltimore’s slowness to build enough bicycle lanes to make cycling a feasible transportation option. She credited the advocacy group Bikemore for its efforts to encourage the city to become more bicycle-friendly.

“There’s certainly many people in this city who would be so happy to bike to work, but they fear for their lives,” Troutner said. “If it was safe, and it was fun, why wouldn’t they?”

Light Street Bicycles is holding a 40-percent-off clearance sale for the next few weeks; a final closing date has not been decided.

“I’ll see how much sells,” Troutner said. “Everything’s a little up in the air. I want to move everything.”

Troutner is proud that her sons, now 28 and 24, grew up around the bicycle shop.

“Raising my kids in this store in the city has been very good for them,” she said. “I don’t know that they would have been the same without the experience of meeting the diverse group of people that they did.”

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