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Pittsburgh's beloved indoor bike park closes after 11 years, community rallies to save legacy

Ramps at an indoor bicycle park.
The Wheel Mill
The Wheel Mill announced it would be closing in February 2024. It opened 11 years ago in Homewood.

The Wheel Mill, Pittsburgh’s indoor bike park in Homewood, was one of few such facilities in the United States, but the 80,000-square-foot park closed its doors last month. Plans are in place to fill the space with pickleball courts while the biking community reimagines what might be possible elsewhere.

Wheel Mill management explained across social media platforms that, after an 11 year run, they were closing shop because of ongoing financial struggles that sprung out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Potoczny was the Wheel Mill’s park manager since its opening in 2013 and said he and other employees are looking into new venues.

“Right now we're in salvage mode,” Potoczny said. “We take the ramps, get them safe, stored and dry, and then we move on to finding a building…there's so many people that have stepped up and want to help.”

Justin Cummings, a frequent rider of the park with his family, is helping salvage these ramps with Potoczny.

“Just in the last few weeks, we've been disassembling the ramps, and we've probably had 50 to 100 different volunteers coming and going, screws and moving wood and getting everything out of the building,” Cummings said. “A few of us chipped in and bought shipping containers…we’re going to need more.”

Cummings said The Wheel Mill was a formative space for his kids as they were growing up in Pittsburgh.

“[The closure] is definitely leaving a void for people of all ages and skills and levels,” Cummings said. “I think Pittsburgh will be fine from now until Halloween, but once the winter comes around, it's definitely going to be missed even more than it is now.”

Mike Halahan and his family have also been riding at the park since its opening. In fact, two of his sons are now traveling to places like Australia and New Zealand as bicycle motocross (BMX) riders.

“They're traveling the world through BMX, and The Wheel Mill contributed to that,” Halahan said. “That place enabled us to shoot video, start a social media campaign, and get the attention of all the sponsors that we now have. So closing it, for us, is very sad.”

The Wheel Mill employed about 20 people, including part-time, full-time and seasonal workers. It hosted at least five major events a year that drew crowds from all over the nation and world. Popular events included those like the Next Generation Jam and the Ride Like a Girl weekend.

Karen Brooks, a part-time instructor, also helped create weekly Ride Like a Girl sessions Her clinic attracted local women, non-binary and transgender individuals of all ages.

“My clinic was a free, fundamental skills clinic,” Brooks said. “It was really nice to just get together with a group of people you knew, people you didn't know, and work on skills together and encourage each other and support each other.”

Sally Sherman was also a part-time instructor at The Wheel Mill. She started as a rider with her daughter shortly after the park’s opening. Sherman helped create a cycling studio in the park and taught yoga at the annual Ride Like a Girl weekends.

“[The Wheel Mill] was crossing race lines and socioeconomic status lines, and it was just a coexistence that we really ideally want every space creating,” Sherman said. “So it's heartbreaking to see that come to an end.”

Potoczny said he hopes to have a new space for bike riders within the coming year.

Erin Yudt is an intern newsroom production assistant and senior at Point Park University majoring in journalism and minoring in psychology. She’s originally from Sharpsville, about an hour north of the ‘Burgh. Erin is the current editor-in-chief of Point Park’s student-run newspaper The Globe, an apprentice for the Point Park News Service and news director for the student-run radio station WPPJ. She has interned for PublicSource, Trib Total Media and The Sharon Herald.