The Cycles for Change is a hands-on-advocacy organization that grew out of the Yellow bike Coalition (YBC) and The Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance (MNBPA).
The MNBPA created the Sibley Bike Depot in Downtown St. Paul as a base of operations in 2001 and had a mission of facilitating an increase of bicycle and pedestrian transportation.
Our organization is built upon the legal charter of a previous bicycle organization- the Yellow Bike Coalition (YBC), which had been formed in 1996 but which had grown inactive by 2000 and was having trouble maintaining a Board of Directors, volunteers, and funding. The Yellow Bike Coalition did good work for years, but the energy and interest in building bikes to be put on the street for free use had inherent problems related to the logistics of servicing the bikes at remote locations.
So, seeing a need for a bicycle advocacy and education organization, a number of volunteers and the remaining Board Members from the YBC formed a partnership with another group of people who were starting to put together the space in the Renaissance Box Building for a community bike shop. At the time, the Depot was really just a name, and the building it was in was just starting to be redeveloped. We had hundreds of bikes, lots of specialized bike tools, a non-profit 501c3 charter (which allows us to take in donations and have them be tax deductible for the donor), and some dedicated volunteers. The Depot folks had ideas, energy, and a really cool space which we were able to move into in 2001.
We thought it important to create a community bicycle shop and an activist voice for Minnesota Bicyclists.
For the first two years of our organization's existence, we concentrated almost exclusively on getting the Sibley Bike Depot up and running smoothly. There is an unbelievable amount of work which goes into making a bike shop functional and into raising enough funds to pay for our charitable activities (i.e. building bikes for developing countries, other charitable organizations and education programs). Consequently we did not have time to adequately perform the statewide advocacy which our mission called for.
In the summer of 2003 we started to expand more methodically beyond the walls of the Depot. We launched a regular email newsletter; created an online calendar giving Minnesotans easy access to activities across the state; we lead workshops and discussions at Metro area farmers markets on safe and effective commuting.
Although we are still staunch bicycle advocates, we realized the value of having a real community bike shop where the community is involved and has a hands-on role in bicycle advocacy.
In 2007 the Sibley Bike Depot was relocated from its home in the Ren-Box. After a tough search for new space, we landed on University Avenue. The space is slightly larger, has a better layout for a community bike space, has better lighting, and has the incredible luxury of heat in the winter! This means we will be open all year-round for the first time!
Our main goals in our new space include: being a useful community resource, teaching more free classes, and helping get more people onto bikes as transportation. You can help us reach our goals by volunteering and using our shop for your own bike needs.