Old Spokes Home is a non-profit bike shop in Burlington’s Old North End. We are a community hub for bike access that encompasses youth and adult programs, a retail bike shop, an active and committed volunteer base, and a community workshop. We refurbish, sell and give away nearly 1,000 bikes each year.
Transportation and mobility are major barriers to many of Vermont’s most marginalized communities. The majority of respondents to our 2020 Old North End Mobility Audit indicated that they either shared a vehicle or had no access to one. Within a car-centric culture and with the assumption that everyone has a car, not having a vehicle can make it difficult to get to school, work, a doctor or a grocery store. Going out to one or more of these locations can become a daily challenge.
Bicycles are a simple solution to many of these obstacles. Bikes offer their users an independent means of transportation; there is no need to navigate a bus schedule nor coordinate a carpool. They are relatively affordable to maintain, storable, free to operate, and produce zero greenhouse gas emissions. Bicycles are faster than walking despite requiring less physical effort and can be accessorized to carry as much cargo as might fit in a car. Nonetheless, the cost of a bicycle can still be prohibitive to many in our community. That’s why Old Spokes Home exists.
Our flagship program, Everybody Bikes, lowers barriers to bicycle access and lessens associated costs with bicycle ownership and use so that everyone can ride a well-functioning bike — both to get around and to recreate and feel the joy that bikes can provide. In 2022, Old Spokes Home served over 375 individuals through our Everybody Bikes program, many of whom were repeat visitors, and half of whom were new clients.
These transportation challenges are felt by kids too, which is why we offer Youth Shop, a drop-in workshop for children and young adults. At Youth Shop, local kids can pick up a bike, get guided repairs, and learn to fix their own bikes while hanging out with friends in a healthy, relaxed setting. Our Kids’ Bike Bonanzas offer free bikes to children ages 3-8 who would qualify for our Everybody Bikes program. These bikes are used by kids to get to school, accompany parents who ride, and to play and bond with their peers.
To make bike repairs easier to access, in the summertime we operate the Mobile Repair Unit, a cargo bike outfitted with tools, a pop-up tent and portable work stands. This allows us to meet our clients where they are; just getting to the bike shop can be a challenge, especially if your (broken) bike is your primary mode of transportation.
If you are interested in supporting Old Spokes Home, please consider coming to Volunteer Night, held every Monday in our Community Workshop, making a monetary donation or donating a bike to Old Spokes Home, or making us your go-to bike shop.
331 North Winooski Avenue
Burlington, VT 05401