The Power of the Pedal
Natural Solutions spoke with Brandon Wells, a worker-owner at the Hub Bicycle Co-operative in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as part of the "Breaking Away" summer bicycle feature. A popular and truly unique shop built upon community involvement, the Hub has become a fixture in the Minneapolis biking community.
What exactly is a bicycle cooperative? Does the Hub have a “mission?”
BW: Did you know that 2012 is the UN International Year of the Co-op? There are so many types of co-ops it’ll blow your mind. At the Hub we a democratically run “worker-owned” co-op. There are no outside interests or people with voting power that don’t participate in the day-to-day operations of the business. We make all our decisions by consensus. Everyone has a vote and a voice. Our mission is to provide sustainable transportation products and services. We also have a vision; we envision a world empowered through worker equality and environmentally responsible transport and living.
What are the benefits of purchasing a bike (or gear) and/or getting repairs from the Hub?
BW: If you buy a bike from us, you’re guaranteed the following: lifetime adjustments, a free tune-up, 10 to 15 percent off additional purchases for 30 days, free accessory installation on the day of bike purchase, 30 day price protection, 30 day flat protection, 15 day money back guarantee. Of course, by making purchases at the Hub, you’re helping to promote a sustainable business model that respects all people throughout the entire supply chain.
When did the Hub first open?
BW: The Hub first opened in 2002. We started off with one shop and now have three great locations
(on the West Bank, in Dinkytown, and on Minnehaha Avenue). It’s been a great journey.
Where are the best places to bike in Minneapolis & St. Paul? What are some must-see places for out of town cyclists?
BW: The Twin Cities have a lot of great places to ride. The Mississippi River Trail and the Greenway are some of the best. If you are from out of town, taking the river trail to Minnehaha Falls is a must. [Worker-Owner Jason Thompkins at the Hub's West Bank location. Photo credit: Jeff Frane]
Minneapolis receives a lot of attention in the media about being the number-one bike-friendly city in the US. What do you think about that?
BW: I think it is great that Minneapolis is getting the attention it deserves for all the hard work it has put towards its infrastructure. But why stop with bikes? We would like to see Minneapolis become the number number-one non-driving city in the country! It’s much easier to ride bikes if people are walking and taking trains as well.
What is the most positive aspect of biking in Minneapolis, or in general?
BW: The best part of biking in Minneapolis is how bike friendly the drivers are. There are certainly improvements that can be made, but all it takes is a trip to another city and I am quickly reminded of the advantages of MPLS biking. Also, biking opens all of your senses to your community. I didn’t really feel like a part of the city until I got on a bike. Also, I don’t have to go to the gym because working out is just part of my lifestyle!
[The Hub's Minnehaha location dons a beautiful mural advocating for worker solidarity and community. Photo credit: Jeff Frane]