08/20/12

New Bike Walk Center Opens in East-Central MinneapolisNew Bike Walk Center Opens in East-Central Minneapolis

SPOKES Bike Walk Connect to Serve Seward, Cedar-Riverside and Phillips Neighborhoods

The Minneapolis bicycling boom has largely bypassed the city's growing East African population - until now. On Wednesday, Aug. 22, SPOKES Bike Walk Connect, a new community bicycling and walking resource, opens to serve residents of the Seward, Cedar-Riverside and Phillips neighborhoods.

SPOKES is located at 1915 East 22nd St. in Minneapolis. (Photo Credit: Bridget Nelson Monroe)

The goal of SPOKES, located at 1915 East 22nd St. (1/2 block west of Minnehaha Ave.) in Minneapolis, is to create and grow a more diverse and informed community of bicyclists and walkers in the community, according to Sheldon Mains, director of SPOKES.

"While our services and programs are open to all, SPOKES is working especially at helping East Africans in the Seward, Cedar-Riverside and Phillips neighborhoods of Minneapolis bike and walk more," Mains said. "A lot of people in this area are not bicycling. We have found there are a lot of barriers. For example: not knowing what kind of bike to get; the cost of a new bike; not knowing how to ride a bike; and not knowing how to ride in traffic."

The Twin Cities has the nation's highest population of residents originally from East Africa - principally from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. According to estimates from the latest American Community Survey, Minnesota is now home to more than 100,000 people from sub-Saharan Africa, including more than 32,000 of Somali ancestry.

SPOKES will provide bicycling goods and services geared toward bicycling newcomers, including:

  • Bicycling classes - including adult learn-to-ride classes
  • Community bike library - starting in spring 2013, SPOKES will lend bikes, helmets, locks and lights
  • Low-cost bikes -starting in spring 2013, SPOKES will offer reconditioned bikes for sale at affordable prices
  • Open shop hours - the public will have access to a complete bike repair shop, open from 1-5 p.m. on Saturdays Separately, on the fourth Monday of each month, there will be an open shop for women only.
  • Youth bike mechanics classes - Beginning this winter, SPOKES will offer an after-school program teaching youth on basic bike mechanics skills
  • Community rides - Starting Sept. 8, SPOKES will sponsor community rides for families

"One of our first hires at SPOKES was Abdiasis Hirsi - Abdi - our community outreach coordinator, to ensure quality outreach to the East African community," Mains said. "Abdi is originally from Somalia, graduated from the University of Minnesota, and only recently learned how to ride a bike himself, making him an ideal example for our services."

From left: Abdi Hirsi, Andrew Magill, Sheldon Mains. (Photo Credit: Bridget Nelson Monroe)

Major funding for SPOKES is provided by Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federal non-motorized transportation pilot program administered by Transit for Livable Communities through the Federal Highway Administration.

"We are thrilled to help provide greater access to safe and secure bicycling and walking opportunities for Minneapolis residents originally from East Africa," said Joan Pasiuk, director of Bike Walk Twin Cities. "We want all local residents to have access to these options, which are affordable, healthy and can build community connections.."

A grand opening for SPOKES will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 22, from 5-8 p.m. For more information about SPOKES, including sign-up for the SPOKES newsletter, go to www.SpokesConnect.org, e-mail to info@spokesconnect.org, or call 612-787-RIDE (7433).

And don't miss this Q & A with Sheldon Mains, director of SPOKES, who took a break from preparing for the grand opening to answer a few questions about the center, its features, and who it will serve. 

Support for SPOKES

SPOKES is a program of the Seward Neighborhood Group, Inc. Major funding for SPOKES is provided by Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federal non-motorized transportation pilot program administered by Transit for Livable Communities through the Federal Highway Administration. This funding is facilitated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development of the City of Minneapolis. Other significant support for SPOKES is provided by Seward Co-op Grocery and Deli, the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program, Quality Bike Products, Dero, Seward Redesign and Nice Ride Minnesota. Additional support has been provided by Ace Welna II Hardware, Home Depot and Valspar.