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SPOKES bike walk center in the works for Seward

SPOKES, a new bike and walk center in Minneapolis’s Seward neighborhood, is preparing for its Aug. 22 grand opening.

The center, whose acronym stands for Seward People Operated Kinetic Energy, is housed in a 2,400-square-foot warehouse space on the former Bystrom Brothers machine shop site. This is also where property owner Seward Redesign, which is a community development corporation, is planning the Seward Commons housing complex. (See The Line story here.)

Last week, volunteers helped paint and set up workbenches and storage areas inside the shop, according to center director Sheldon Mains. Bike racks will soon be installed outside, he says.

The Seward Neighborhood Group is behind the center, which has been in the works for a couple of years.

Startup funds came from Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federal nonmotorized transportation pilot program administered by Transit for Livable Communities through the Federal Highway Administration, he explains. This funding is facilitated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the city of Minneapolis, he adds. 

The center is part of a larger neighborhood initiative to “get more people biking and walking,” especially as a regular mode of transportation, Mains says.

Biking is more economical than driving and it’s a good form of exercise. “It can help build social connections, too,” he adds. 

The center will start out by targeting East African immigrants, who form a large community within the neighborhood. This is a response in part to a neighborhood survey that found that “what stopped people from riding was that they didn’t know how to,” he says.

Some people also said they couldn’t afford a bike or equipment, or they didn’t have a place to store it. “We’re trying to address those things,” Mains says.

Some helmets, bikes and Nice Ride bike-sharing memberships have been donated to the center, while the bike racks came from local manufacturer Dero. Seward Coop Market and Deli and Quality Bike Products have made contributions, as well.

The center is still looking for more used bikes to loan to low-income residents, he adds.  

SPOKES will also offer classesfocusing on basic riding skills, traffic rules, and bike mechanics. The shop will also host open work times for women, he says.

Plus, a bike repair station will be accessible 24 hours a day outside. “It’s a unique program,” Mains says.  

Source: Sheldon Mains, director, SPOKES
Writer: Anna Pratt
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