Story and Photos by Marlene Wandel
There is a small building on the Lakehead University Campus that, from the inside, is reminiscent of a Norwegian parking lot. Nestled against the bike path across from the ATAC building, the LU Bike Shack houses an impressive assembly of bikes, and, since 2011, also the Community Spokes Bicycle Cooperative.
In a nutshell, Community Spokes is a “volunteer-run group dedicated to teaching people to fix their own bikes,” according to Greg Allan, the outgoing co-ordinator. Though situated on campus, with funding for the co-ordinator coming from LUSU, Community Spokes is a Thunder Bay entity, open to all Thunder Bay cyclists. In the spirit of “teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,” workshops teaching the skills to maintain bikes are run periodically. The workshop also has open shop hours, with tools and help available for bike maintenance. As of 2013, Community Spokes has partnered with Kairos Community Resource Centre, sharing work and bikes in a mutually beneficial partnership.
There are bikes a-plenty in the bike shack, bike parking for cyclists, a wall of Community Spokes works in progress, and a section for donated bikes. Donated bikes are repaired and rebuilt to make a rideable bike for sale or donation.
On the south side of the building, the ground has thawed enough that bike tracks are visible in the dirt. As cycling season comes upon us, Community Spokes will leave its mark on those wanting a more active relationship with their own wheels and spokes. The resources available here will ensure that for some of us, our wheels will keep going round and round, smoothly.
Visit communityspokes.com or call 346-7910 for information and shop hours.