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Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Down To Earth

Pedals 2 People - a DTE multimedia feature

*From DTE:
We tried something a little different recently - and the result is our first video feature to accompany a story we wrote about the very awesome Pedals2People. Is this the beginning of DTEtv?
The following story can also be found as a multimedia package on the front page of

Pedals2People sees growing potential for area

Pedals2People, a local non-profit that promotes the bicycle as a sustainable way to build a healthy community, recently moved to a new, more spacious location to continue and foster the operation of a community bike shop and bike co-op.

Significantly more spacious than the previous location - a donated garage on the South Hill - this new location on Sprague is still the place to score donated parts for your bike, new and used. It’s a place to put your hands on just about any kind of tool you could ever need to fix your bike and bicycle mecca where bike geeks ride to get lost amongst the container upon container of frame parts, accessories, and odds and ends - all while good music and cycling discussions fill the air.

“It’s flat. We’re not on top of a giant hill anymore,” said John Speare, the Pedals2People co-founder, on the new location. “That was sort of the number one criteria for picking a spot. The second reason is that we’re in an area that is pretty underserved with bike shops. That’s good for the people around here, and we’re not encroaching on other bike shops.”

pedals2people from Down To Earth on Vimeo.

Located at 1802 E. Sprague, in the heart of Spokane’s burgeoning International District, the shop is next to One World Cafe. In fact, they share a wall with them, as was noticed immediately via the sound of clanking dishes on the sunny Saturday in February when we dropped in. They also temporarily share space with the SNAP Vibrant Communities office, an organization working to revitalize the neighborhood.

Speare said being part of the improving International District has been fun. “It’s an interesting challenge because I think there’s a real flavor to this neighborhood - it’s really cool, hopefully we don’t trample that,” he said.

Inside Pedals2People there’s a captivating mural by local artist Tiffany Patterson, and a gate-like entrance to the shop consisting of welded bike chains, sprockets, frame parts and other bike components fabricated by Glen Copus. The shop still has the same DIY-ethic as the garage but additionally offers assistance with a knowledgeable and eager staff.

There are two kinds of assistance. The first is a shop rental. If you are working on a project that requires a bikes stand and bike tools, their mechanics and volunteers will give you access to the workbench tools for $5 an hour. Or you can become a member and “get-all-you-can wrench” for $50 annually or twenty-five hours of your own volunteer time. The second was our option: The drop-in for a minor adjustment.

As it stands now, Pedals2People is open just three days a week – Thursday through Saturday – and limited hours (see below). They hope to expand those hours and days if there is a demand.
* Joe Tomsen, regular volutneer for P2P shown in photo. Photo courtesy of Pedals2People.


Ryan Volsen, Drew Meuer, and John Henry were manning the shop when we visited. Henry was in constant motion, wielding bike tools just as eloquently as the folk hero himself. “We have about ten to thirty active volunteers we see frequently, and maybe a few we see once or twice a year,” Henry explained. “But probably over hundred people in our little family.”

In addition to offering assistance and selling bike parts, the shop sells entire bicycles - donated or fixed up bikes usually. “The other day, some random guy just dropped this mountain bike off,” Henry said as he gestured an allen wrench towards a red Gerry Fisher bike hanging on the wall amongst a half dozen or so other bikes. “He just didn’t want it anymore and wanted to donate it. We tuned it up, put some parts on it, and it’s good to go.”

The shop also offers classes taught by local bike mechanics including a Ladies Night. The session is a unique opportunity for women interested in learning about bike mechanics in a comfortable, welcoming environment, you’ll discuss terminology; flats repair, chains, and basic maintenance.

And if you can’t make it to Pedals2People during shop hours, they’ll likely come close to you sometime this spring and summer. Thanks to a grant last year, Pedals2People makes the rounds at local neighborhood festivals, community events and more as part of their mobile tune-up offering. “That’s how we got started was doing free tuneups,” Speare said. “Going to neighborhoods that didn’t have a lot of access to bike shops, or that just had a lot of kids. Kids that didn’t have money or time.”

Hauling tune-up trailers behind their bikes, P2P volunteers will hit up five or six locations this year. “It’s usually like twenty people rolling around,” Henry explained. “It’s pretty cool.”

For all that Pedals2People does, it’s the empowering people, as their mission statement says, that it’s all about. And that can happen anywhere - at the shop or in your neighborhood. “This place gives us a way to formalize our service oriented mission which is to empower people, to teach them how to fix bikes and work on their own bikes,” Speare said.

And just how did it all start? “It was from traveling around and seeing other cities, seeing that there was a big gaping hole here. There was just no place where they could go and learn how to work on their bikes, and find a place to get used parts, something that wasn’t just directly about selling bikes all the time.”

“Pedals2People has grown out of wanting to build a bigger bike community,” co-founder Liza Mattana told DTE in an interview in 2007, “it’s about building communities.” Spokane, however, is not the only community their building. In 2008, they shipped over 500 bicycles to Ghana, Africa as a result of a partnership with a Moscow, ID organization called The Village Bicycle Project, which sends donated bikes to Ghana, where 99% of the population cannot afford vehicles - making the bicycle a way of life and an essential commodity. The non-profit has also donated bikes to Crosswalk for at risk youth and has worked with City Yoga and The Scoop in raising money and awareness.

Last month, Pedals2People teamed with Union Gospel Mission and local bike shop Two Wheel Transit to put unused bicycles back to work for the good of the community with a a bike version of “Cash For Clunkers” with three differences: It’s only for bikes, it is not federally funded, and bikes aren’t destroyed but reused.

There’s no question Spokane is inching closer to becoming a bike friendly city. At Spokane’s second SpokeFest last year, turnout topped 1,600, compared with about 1,200 in 2008. During the first two years of the city’s Bike to Work Week, participation has risen from 952 to 1,472, and organizers hope to attract 1,700 riders for 2010. Add Summer Parkways, which closes a downtown arterial for a bike street fair two days in July and August. And more projects are underway like the $2.3 million project to build a paved bike and pedestrian portion of the Fish Lake Trail andd a $699,000 project to add bike lanes in a 3-mile loop around downtown.

Mattana put it simply when we first met her in 2007: “It makes us feel good to get on a bike and go to work. When you drive, it’s not a happy empowering feeling; you end up being grumpy and agitated. But when you ride a bike you get to feel good about it, it’s an empowering feeling.” On the learning curve about riding in Spokane, “any new thing you are leaning is scary and daunting. Finding a support system helps. Try finding people on bikes and talk to them. Try it once a week, once a month, try to be bold. Just get out there and be seen, that is the best thing to do. If there were more bike racks, bike lanes, bike boulevards, or signage simply stating “Share the Road” more people would do it. If you have those facilities that make it easier, people will do, like recycling.”

That said, and after a tragic bike collision at Division and Sprague that killed David Squires, there’s a sentiment amongst cyclists that the city has a long way to go.

“I feel that Spokane is pretty bike friendly,” Speare said. “A lot of people will disagree with me, I mean, we just had a death - and that was really harsh and tragic. In a lot of ways though, I see Spokane being pretty bike friendly in terms of infrastructure - to some degree. There’s a pretty big bar for people that aren’t comfortable riding in traffic. To that end, there are things like the Bicycle Advisory Board working on getting more bike lanes, more infrastructure, generally just helping people feel more comfortable on bikes.”

Down To Earth

The DTE blog is committed to reporting and sharing environmental news and sustainability information from across the Inland Northwest.