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Nonprofit bicycle shop creates a cycling-friendly community in the Truckee Meadows.
Amid the weekly rental motels, boarded-up buildings, and sometimes illicit activities that East 4th Street in Reno is known for, you can’t miss the hot-pink building with a beautifully drawn bike displaying words such as “Patience” and “Peace.” This is where the nonprofit group Reno Bike Project resides.
In 2006, the idea to create a cycling-friendly community was born in Noah Silverman’s basement. One night a week, Reno residents Silverman and Kyle Kozar conducted educational courses about biking, and, as the number of attendees grew, so did the organization.
Today, Reno Bike Project has expanded to six public workstations, offers a variety of affordable bikes for sale, hosts several public education courses and programs, and is involved in bike advocacy throughout the Truckee Meadows. It has become the go-to place for beginning, intermediate, and advanced cyclists in The Biggest Little City.
Program Manager Jeff Mitchell says that the most popular year-round program is the public workstations. When bikes are donated, they are either offered at a discounted price or “as-is.” The as-is bikes go for about $30 to $70 and are a great option for beginners who don’t want to spend too much money.
An expert mechanic is available to supervise and educate. “People come in, buy an as-is bike, then they use our public workstations and the bins of parts to build the bike they want,” Mitchell says. “This allows for folks to get out of here for $100 while learning how to work on their bike.”
Twice-weekly public education courses are free to the public. On ladies night, Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m., women are given the opportunity to work on their bikes and learn. On Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m., “Dan’s Night” provides free shop time and the opportunity to ask expert mechanics questions.
The social service organizations on 4th Street have provided a rare opportunity to bring the community together. “We can service people who have really nice bikes, because they support our cause and want access to our mechanics,” Mitchell says. “You’ll have lawyers in here working next to folks who don’t even have a house or job. We are serving a number of groups in our community, and it’s awesome.”
Two youth programs are being launched in September; one is geared toward at-risk high school students. In addition to offering bike maintenance, nutrition education, and stretching information, it will introduce a 10-week after-school ride club. The program aims to provide the training and tools for participants to ride 50 continuous miles by the end of the 10 weeks.
The Safe Routes to School program will combat childhood obesity by making bicycling and walking more attractive in the Washoe County School District. “I think that Reno being able to transform itself into a community that is more inviting to bicyclists is an important part of the culture throughout the city,” Mitchell says.
Mitchell believes biking can change a person’s outlook through simple things like being more connected to the weather or opening riders’ eyes to sights they wouldn’t see while driving. “There are murals throughout Reno you don’t see from your car. Biking makes you more connected to the place you live, and you begin to care more about your surroundings,” he says.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Reno Bike Project
541 E. 4th St., Reno, NV 89512