Up to good in Berkeley


Spokes National has relocated from Oakland to Berkeley this summer, and will be up and running late August.

For the rest of this year, this is what SPOKES is up to:

  1. Searching for board and advisory members who wish to contribute to spreading a love for cycling, believing that it can help make communities kinder and healthier. We see cycling as a means for the less privileged to access better food options, better educational and job opportunities and build stronger, more diverse networks and hope you do too.
  2. Finding ways to continue serving East Bay families by getting more people on bikes that fit them. That means going to conferences to meet policymakers, going to events to meet with vendors to bring in more and better brands to fit different body types, lifestyles and ambitions. Whether you want to be a unicyclist or a recumbent cyclists, SPOKES has the relationships to help guide you.
  3. Building up support for next years triathlons and rides. If you would like to contribute or volunteer, please get in touch with us.

SPOKES National is also looking for an app developer to help create two community-oriented apps. If you’re one, or you know of one, please reach out to pearly@spokesnational.com

In the meantime, keep an eye out for SPOKES because we’ll be up to good in Berkeley!




Ready For Fitness: Getting Oakland Doctors To Prescribe Electric Bikeshare Memberships


Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge owner Brian Drayton demonstrates how much he can do with a GenZe e-bike and a cargo trailer.

Since last week, commercial residents at Jack London Square were able to zip around on e-bikes. The bikeshare pilot program that will see eight solar powered e-bikes based at the waterfront attraction was launched early Jan at Oakland City Hall.

The e-bikes are provided by Fremont-based electric bicycle and scooter company, Mahindra Genze, and will be housed in a custom-built solar powered charging station provided by Concord-based DC Solar, making it the first solar bikeshare program in the country. What this small step in the direction to get Oaklanders out and about indicates is that perhaps we can soon expect Oakland doctors to prescribe bikeshare memberships like doctors in Boston are doing.

The electric bikeshare program is a creation of Bike Solar Oakland, a community partnership that aims to bring sustainable urban transportation via solar powered electric bicycles and scooters to Oakland, CA. The companies working together include California Clean Energy Fund, Oakland-based solar service company Sungevity and IRFTS Shadow Solar.

At the event, passers-by were allowed to test ride the bikes around the Oakland City Hall area. Those who missed the opportunity can still do so by dropping in at Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge on Grand Ave in Oakland. The community bike shop is GenZe’s sole dealer in the Bay Area and sole proprietor Brian Drayton is the man behind the effort to get doctors here to write e-bike prescriptions that will partially or fully cover their leased cost for the time patients need to be pedalling.

“Rather than get a pack of pills, I hope to see more people out riding bikes,” said Brian. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s obesity, anxiety or mental issues, riding a bike can help it because it’s a social activity that will get you out and about and working your body.”

According to the 2010 US Census, there were almost 42,000 seniors aged 65 and above living in Oakland. This number is undoubtedly higher today, and when approached at farmers markets and on the streets, many said that they used to ride bicycles but no longer did so due to health issues like leg, knee and hip pains.

So how can an e-bike help? Not only will the e-bike make it easier for seniors with disabilities to continue pedaling and working those leg muscles to stay healthy, active, alert and in the community, riding is likely to boost their confidence by empowering them with independent mobility.

The GenZe e-bikes are also environmentally considerate as their batteries will be connected to a mobile solar charging station. No fossil fuels burnt, no earth destroyed, while getting more people on bikes that fit their needs.

The e-bikes cost $1,499, and can go up to 18 mph. With detachable batteries that can be brought indoors to charge at home or at the workplace, each two hour charge can carry a rider and his load 35 miles.

“Many people think e-bikes make people lazy, but this is a pedal-assist bike, which means you’ll still have to pedal,” said Brian. “So far, I’ve carried more than 300 lbs of furniture and bicycles on my cargo trailer attached to the GenZe.”

Those interested in finding out more about GenZe e-bikes can visit Oakland Spokes at 366A Grand Ave, Oakland. For store hours, visit http://www.oaklandspokes.com

Next Article: Spin classes? Why should I?

Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge: Building a community bike shop

12360131_10153793496709555_7197974143203794247_nOakland Spokes Bike Lounge may just be two months old on Grand Avenue. But sole proprietor Brian Drayton has spent the last six years planning out the community space.

In the last decade alone, more than 15 new bike shops have popped up in Oakland, a city with a fast growing bicycle culture.  But none of them do things like Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge.

Located opposite Lake Merritt with a bicycle lane circling the water, a sign outside Oakland Spokes welcomes passers-by to come in and test ride bicycles all day long. Step inside the store and you can expect to be offered a hot rock to hold after getting out of the chilly Bay Area weather.  And the love at the lounge doesn’t stop there. Customers, or Spokespeople, can come in and enjoy a cup of hot tea or cider on the house any time. And as it’s often said in Oakland, the store’s hours are “hella early” and “hella late”, from 8.30am to 9pm, Mondays to Fridays.12274681_10153749631969555_2682529943314863521_n

“I’ve been planning this for a long time,” said Brian, who has lived in Oakland for over 20 years. “I realized that in order to serve cyclists, I’ve to be there when they’re riding, and that’s when they’re commuting to and from work in the morning and night.”

To make sure he has time to do other stuff like social media outreach and admin duties, Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge is closed on weekdays from 11am to 2pm for appointments like bike fits, and on weekends, they’re open 9am to 5pm.

By Brian’s definition, the Spokes lounge is a community bike shop and one of the ways he makes that happen is by inviting anyone and everyone to become investors. To become an investor, one just has to pick out a product or Spokes project that they believe in and choose how many of the product they would like to purchase for Spokes to sell in-store, or how much they’d like to invest in the project.

“Spokes is all about serving the underserved,” said Brian. “This means getting community input on what they want to see in the shop, whether it’s extra small sized gloves, extra large helmets, more women’s apparel or fingerprint operated locks.”

No other bike shop in Oakland offers a similar investor program, and so far, Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge has received almost $8,000 in investment from cyclists, Oakland lovers, startup supporters and individuals familiar with Brian’s work.

12347622_961670647238096_6405553902618376926_nBrian built his first bike at age 14 when his first bicycle was stolen. He had received a bicycle from his parents for Christmas after going above and beyond his chores for a year. But barely a week after receiving his gift, a bully took his bike and the young man began building them instead.

“I was the $14-dollar bike boy,” said Brian. “Back then, 14-dollars was a lot, and it’s how I taught myself how to put bikes together. That’s not to say that after that I didn’t have to learn about bike mechanics properly, I did.”

The $14-dollar bike boy may now be building $10,000 bikes at his shop today, but his heart remains dedicated to getting anyone and everyone on bikes.

From high-end touring bikes like Co-Motions to adult tricycles and ultra-low step-through bicycles for elders with hip and knee problems, Oakland Spokes Bike Lounge seems to have thought of something for everyone.

Next article: Not feeling well? How about a prescription for an E-bike?