I recently stopped by Venture North Bike Walk Center to chat with them about their first few weeks as a fully functioning bike-walk center and what they have in the plans for 2012.
Venture North Bike Walk Center opened in North Minneapolis right before Thanksgiving in 2011 and offers a full range of services and programs relating to bicycling and community development.
“The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Alicia Adams, Health and Program Outreach Coordinator. “People stop in just to say hi and thank us for being here.”
In addition to providing quality used bicycles at affordable prices and fashionable bicycling accessories, Venture North provides hands-on training to neighborhood youth through their Build a Bike program.
The 16-week Build-a-bike apprenticeship program provides a framework for community youth to learn basic bike repair and maintenance, sales, and customer service skills. Over the course of the program, apprentice mechanics attend two four-hour classes twice a week and then personally shadow the master mechanic to work on individual skills. Current apprentices are fixing up used bikes for the floor of the shop. As the program develops, apprentice mechanics will mentor younger students through the program and earn a free bike.
“We’re more than just a ‘bike shop,’ we provide a fully functioning service center, used bikes, and a community space,” said Casey Pavek, Service and Education Manager. “We fix all sorts of things!” Also, in January 2012, Dogwood Coffee will be opening a small coffee shop inside of Venture North. Coffee and bikes –a great way to build community space!
Venture North Bike Walk Center provides basic bicycle maintenance classes to the broader community and even a couples bike class to encourage people to ride together. Fridays are “Free Flat Fix Fridays at Five,” where community members can come learn the best ways to change a flat tire.
With the apprenticeship course and service center up and running, Venture North is looking towards providing additional programming in 2012. In early 2012, the Center will be hosting a series of events entitled “Dream Because You Can” to encourage all people in the community to give bicycling or walking a try. They will be releasing a video with information about Venture North, free workshops on Thursdays and Saturdays, and a group bike ride to check out new bicycling infrastructure in North Minneapolis and surrounding neighborhoods.