New downtown location working out great for Positive Spin bicycle collective.
➼ Brightly colored bicycle frames and huge black wheels hang inside a new storefront across from the Westover bridge. At first glance, passersby might mistake it for a bike shop. But step inside and it’s clear that Positive Spin is so much more. It’s a workshop where cycling experts and novices alike can gather to chat, tinker with bikes, and help neighbors in need.
Started in 2005, Positive Spin is a volunteer-run organization that educates, encourages, and empowers the cycling community. “Bike collectives tend to be in larger urban areas, so it was ambitious to start one in Morgantown,” Positive Spin’s president Jonathan Rosenbaum says. The nonprofit was still in its infancy when Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast. Members rallied the local community and sent about 80 bikes to New Orleans. Ever since, Positive Spin has only gained traction.
Every Tuesday evening, the shop bustles with people who are buying new sets of wheels, repairing their current bikes, or volunteering. Volunteer hours can be exchanged in place of cash for repair time or used parts and one used bike per shop season. Much of the repair process is do-it-yourself, but someone is always willing to lend a hand. ”You come in not as a customer, but as a person from the community,” Rosenbaum says. “What we hope is, people will learn those skills and help others so it’s a circular process.”
Biking isn’t just a recreational activity. It can be a viable option for getting from one place to another while also promoting health and reducing congestion on the roads. “We provide transportation that can improve your life, get you in better shape, and make Morgantown a better place,” Rosenbaum says. He says most of the shop’s patrons are in the low to moderate income range, and a percentage of them need a reliable mode of transportation. Positive Spin can not only supply that bike, but show owners how to repair it so they can keep on spinning.
The workshop has already seen an increase in foot traffic since it opened downtown in the spring. “One aspect about our new location is that we’re right by the Bartlett House homeless shelter, and people from there can come into our shop to volunteer,” Rosenbaum says. “We’re seeing growth in terms of delivering our mission of providing bikes for people who truly need them.”
Looking down the road, the collective’s long-term goals include having paid employees and hosting bike repair classes in order to get more members involved. For those wanting to know more, the best way to find out is to stop by and volunteer. “Anyone who walks into our shop can volunteer. There’s always something you can do,” Rosenbaum says.
Positive Spin isn’t just a clever name. It defines what the organization is—a vibrant organization improving Morgantown through community, positivity, and bicycles. 1216 University Avenue, 304.933.2633, @positivespinwv.
written by Jess Walker
photographed by Kayse Ellis