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Sharing Wheels keeps people moving
EVERETT — At a shop tucked in an alley behind Broadway, refurbished bicycles are getting a second life.
Bicycle frames ready to be placed on wheels line the shop’s racks. Finished bicycles sit out ready for sale.
About 25 bicycles the shop fixed up are tagged to be sent to Ghana in Africa to support the Village Bicycle Project, a Seattle nonprofit that sends used bicycles to Africa and teaches students how to repair bikes.
The shop is home to Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop, which seeks to connect used bicycles to people who need them.
Another batch of bicycles is being prepared for Sharing Wheels’ annual Kids Bike Swap June 9, where growing kids can trade in smaller bikes for bigger ones.
The all-volunteer shop is located at 2531 Broadway and has been helping people find affordable bicycles for 12 years.
The public can come use the shop’s tools or attend low-cost bicycle repair classes.
If you stop by, you’ll probably find Kristi Knodell, the shop’s go-to for help, and Tango the shop dog. She spends hours at the shop fixing up bikes because she wants to get people moving.
“I really believe bicycles are an important part of transportation,” Knodell said.
In Africa, where millions of people have no other way to get around than by foot, people can move four times faster by bicycle, according to the Village Bicycle Project.
In Everett, Greg Wennerberg is able to carry more groceries from the food bank by bicycle than he could by bus, he said.
“I’ve been totally liberated since I got this bike,” Wennerberg said, showing off his classic red 1978 Raleigh road bike Knodell had refurbished.
His next bike from Sharing Wheels will be a black Peugeot road bike he plans to tackle the annual 200-mile Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic with this summer.
Wennerberg is taking classes at the shop to learn how to take care of his bikes on his own. The shop also offers parts at cut-rate prices.
Mechanics from local bicycle shops pitch in at Sharing Wheels to prepare bicycles for big events like Christmas House, a “free store” for low-income families to pick out Christmas gifts each December. Last year, Sharing Wheels’ volunteers built 80 bikes for Christmas House, Knodell said.
Terry Egge of Everett likes Sharing Wheels’ grittiness and community spirit.
“I love this place,” Egge said. “It looks like a bike shop, it smells like a bike shop.”
Egge got hooked a few years ago and volunteers each week.
“I took all these classes and now I’m teaching them,” Egge said.
“It’s great,” Egge’s friend Carter Wall of Everett said. “It’s not money-driven, it’s a real social place.”
Last week Egge was finishing up a Trek mountain bike for Deanna Adams, who is buying two mountain bikes for her sons.
Adams lives in Bowen Island, British Columbia, and found the shop on the Internet.
“Kristi’s great, she’s some great help,” Adams said. “It looked like a good selection.”
Volunteers can usually build a refurbished bike in two weeks, Knodell said.
Sharing Wheels is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m.
Donations of new or used bikes in good condition are taken whenever the shop is open. The entrance is next to the garage door and to the left in the hallway inside. With each bike donation the shop asks for a $5 cash donation to help buy the new parts or cleaner needed to make it look shiny for the next owner. Visit www.sharingwheels.org for more information or call 425-252-6952.
Work parties for the Kids Bike Swap are scheduled for the following dates:
• May 1 (6-9 p.m.)
• May 11 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)
• May 15 (6-9 p.m.)
• May 28 (6-9 p.m.)
• June 5 (6-9 p.m.)
• June 6 (6-9 p.m.)
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