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  • Local Spotlight: Neighborhood Bike Works Bicycle_works_3 Full view

    Local Spotlight: Neighborhood Bike Works

    Neighborhood Bike Works
    Photo: Creative Commons

    Neighborhood Bike Works

    Have extra free time and want to support a local youth and community outreach program?

    Give Neighborhood Bike Works a visit.

    Founded in 1999, the non-profit has been making a difference in Philly’s underserved neighborhoods with free bicycling programs throughout the summer and school year. Kids (ages 8-18) learn about cycling safety, bicycle mechanics, and healthy lifestyles. Using the joy sparked by bike riding, Neighborhood Bike Works inspires confidence and a spirit of adventure in the young people they serve.

    The Neighborhood Bike Works Mission

    More than a bike shop, Neighborhood Bike Works is an inspiring Philadelphia-born educational and community outreach organization.

    With a mission to empower underprivileged urban youth through bicycling, Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW) offers recreational and educational opportunities for kids and teens throughout Greater Philadelphia. NBW moves to help these young individuals develop life-long skills through programs that promote self-reliance, self-confidence, and practical-skill building. Almost all of their programs are free for participants with the costs being covered by NBW and its partner organizations.

    Cycling serves as a healthy, affordable, sustainable and accessible transit option for young people. Bicycling gives young adults the freedom of self-propelled travel and opportunity for ownership and responsibility over their own vehicle.

    Bike Works Programs

    • Youth Bike Education and Empowerment Program (YBEEP): Encompassing all of NBW’s youth programs, YBEEP paves the way for young participants to transition through entry level programs, continue to build and practice the skills they learn in graduate programs, and then pass that knowledge on to others in NBW’s advanced programs and job opportunities.
    • Earn-A-Bike: NBW’s flagship program allows youth ages 8 to 18 to build their own bikes using old and donated parts. The hands-on program is designed to promote independence as participants end their 15-session course with a bike made from their own hard work, allowing them new freedom to travel at their own means.
    • Ride Club: This after-school program takes participants around to explore Philly by bike. The 4-week program visits historic, artistic, and natural community sites while teaching bike safety. All riders must be able to complete a continuous 20 minute cycling trip.
    • Summer Cycling Day Camp: Camp members work through the Earn-A-Bike program, enjoy outdoor activities and field trips while learning about cycling safety and healthy lifestyles.
    • Drop-In Sessions: After finishing either the Earn-A-Bike or Ride Club programs, participants can return to the shop to continue practicing their mechanic skills. The sessions are held once a week and allow the kids to work on their previously earned bike or help around at the shop to earn credit hours that can be saved and used to gain bikes and bike parts.
    • Group Rides: NBW graduates of the Earn-A-Bike or Ride Club and parents come together once a month on a cycling excursion in Philly. The rides also give graduates opportunities to earn more credit hours.
    • Kinetic Sculpture Class: Bringing together Philadelphian artists and NBW together to collaborate in designing and building a kinetic sculpture to take part in the annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.
    • Race Team: Participants who have graduated the Earn-A-Bike, Ride Club, or Summer Camp programs can join the Race Team. During the late spring through the summer, team members learn about proper nutrition, safe exercises and cycling practices and participate in indoor exercise training and outdoor practice rides.
    • Leadership and Advanced Mechanics: Another program for NBW graduates, the Leadership & Advanced Mechanics program allows participants to build advanced bicycle mechanic skills as well as train to become an Earn-A-Bike instructor or Bike Shop Apprentice. The 8-week class works with local bike mechanics with hands-on learning and features field trips to local bike headquarters.

    NBW is not just limited to youths though. Programs and opportunities for adults and the greater community exist, too!

    Adult & Community Programs

    • Need to fix your bike and don’t quite know what to do or have the right tools? Attend an Adult Bike Repair Class.
    • Hosting a community event or block party and want to help grow a positive bicycling culture in Philly? NBW offers a variety of activities and services from Bike Safety Checks and Repair Demonstrations to Valet Bike Parking.
    • Part of a club or organization and looking for a team-building exercise or volunteering opportunity? NBW hosts Community Service Projects to get involved with the organization and its community.

    Ride of Dreams

    This July, NBW will be hosting its 5th annual Ride of Dreams, a 4-day biking trek and fundraiser that takes a group of NBW teens, and adult cyclists, on a 250 mile ride around southern Pennsylvania.

    The teens have been training for three months for the challenging adventure that will take them through Kutztown, Hershey, and back through Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Starting on July 10th, 40 riders depart from NBW’s Philly headquarters on a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not only follows NBW’s mission to build confidence and a sense of adventure, but will be fundraising for it, too.

    Last year, the Ride of Dreams 2013 raised almost $30,000 for NBW’s programs; this year they hope to meet last year’s record. The annual ride is a much loved event, greatly impacting youth members with the group’s support, motivation and overall sense of accomplishment for completing the 250-mile adventure.

    Future Plans

    Neighborhood Bike Works
    Photo: Creative Commons

    The organization currently operates out of two locations. Recently, NBW was awarded an Impact100 Philadelphia grant and hopes to establish a West Philly hub to unite their two existing sites into a larger, more visible and accessible location.

    The new headquarters and restructuring will help extend the organization’s reach and enable them involve more low-income kids with their cycling programs. They are also planning to host a series of outreach events to engage more kids, families and communities in cycling and share the opportunities NBW has to share.

    Getting Involved & Volunteer

    Interested in joining NBW programs?

    View current program schedules, how to register or help by visiting their website, emailing [email protected] or follow them on Twitter.

    The youth programs and community outreach events are always looking for volunteers. An added benefit to volunteering includes access to NBW’s shop space to work on your own bike or bike project.

    Neighborhood Bike Works Locations

    • University City: 3916 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (Behind St. Mary’s Episcopal Church), (215-386-0316)
    • North Philadelphia: 1424-26 W. Susquehanna Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19121 (215-717-3305)

    Linh Kostiuk

    About Linh Kostiuk

    Linh studies Architectural Technologies at Philadelphia University and spent a previous semester studying Sustainability in Copenhagen, Denmark. These experiences home and abroad inspired her to take a closer look at her personal impact on the environment and ways to lessen it. Whether she's reminding others to recycle or supporting local farmers markets, she knows those small steps can add up to a greater positive change.

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