Spoke Talk: Exploring the idea of a bike hub in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Spoke Talk: Exploring the idea of a bike hub in Steamboat

Matthew Rochon
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

For my final Spoke Talk of the (dirt) riding season, let’s discuss what a bike hub might look like here in Steamboat Springs. What it would do, how big should it be and where should it be located?

The bike hub would serve the needs of Steamboat’s cyclists by providing a space for maintenance and safety education, tools and work stands for volunteer mechanics to repair and match bicycles and storage space for bikes and parts so that Bike Match can continue taking donations later into the season. It would also provide space, so we can stop in and perform quick maintenance on our own bikes.

We can use the bike hub to provide free or inexpensive recycled bikes so that as our kids grow, we can find affordable replacement bikes. Those of us new to cycling shouldn’t have to get a loan to get a functional bike that meets our needs. A used hardtail bike is a great learning tool for most aspiring mountain bikers to start.

In many places, free bikes come with an obligation to help fix donated bikes and mandatory rider education. Understanding trail etiquette helps develop courteous trail users. Other places also require community service for a free bike.

Based on the current level of maintenance to repair donated bikes and assuming that Steamboat’s cyclists would use the facility, we would need about three work areas plus storage. The bike hub needs parts storage bins, some racks for wheels and frames, along with storage for up to 20 bicycles.

To accomplish this, we don’t necessarily need a dedicated, year-round space. We could easily share functions with a winter program and even move some of the bikes and tools to a pre-identified storage facility during the winter months. Solutions for this could range from a shipping container box or two and some pop-up tents to a dedicated space for the bike hub, or something in between, where workspace is provided, but storage is in temporary containers. Ideally, we’d need about the same space as a two- to three-car garage.

In order to be accessible to most Steamboat residents, the bike hub should be centrally located and along the Yampa River Core Trail, so that it can be accessed by bicycle. The natural place is at the Howelsen Hill base area. Howelsen is accessible by car, bike or walking and is fairly central to many of Steamboat’s lower income housing areas. Both Emerald Mountain and the Core Trail are easily accessible from the Howelsen base area, meaning that a bike hub located there could serve all types of cyclists here in the ‘Boat.

Space for a bike hub could come in many ways. Space could be donated or leased. The bike hub could join a new project like the proposed dry-land training area behind the rodeo grounds, or fill in the space currently occupied by those functions if they move. If this is something we want, Routt County Riders is our advocate. Joining Routt County Riders makes our collective voice louder. Together, we can make this happen.

Matthew Rochon is the Routt County Riders community outreach program manager. He loves living in a community that shares his passion for cycling. If you want to donate, learn more or volunteer, reach out to Matthew and RCR Bike Match at matthew@routtcountyriders.org.

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