The Many Miles of Neighborhood Bike Works
Neighborhood Bike Works was created in 1996 as Youth Cycle & Recycle, a project of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. At the time, many other cities were launching youth bike education programs, and advocates in Philadelphia were inspired to create their own.
Our first youth Earn-A-Bike programs were launched through the Philadelphia Housing Authority, at Westpark Homes at 46th & Market, and at a church owned by University of Pennsylvania at 42nd & Spruce (now Penn Alexander School). In 2000, Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW) moved to St. Mary’s Church at 40th & Locust Walk.
In the following years, Earn-A-Bike, Saturday Drop In sessions, and Monthly Group Rides became staples of our program offerings where young people between 8 and 18 years could build bikes, go on group rides, learn mechanics and life skills, and make friends. “Bike Church,” a program for adults to use NBW’s workshop and tools, offered a space for anyone over 18 to learn about bikes, fix bikes, and help put the hundreds of bikes donated each year back into use.
During its first 20 years, NBW has gone through many metamorphoses. We have operated satellite locations and programs in West Philly’s Haddington neighborhood, in North Philly and South-Center City, and even outside city limits in Norristown and Chester. Key moments include:
- 1996: Youth Cycle & Recycle begins, soon to become Neighborhood Bike Works
- 1999: “Bike Church” opens to raise money and to train volunteers for youth programs
- 2002: Summer Cycling Day Camp launches in West Philly with 64 youth
- 2002: NBW expands with satellite shop in West Philly’s Haddington neighborhood
- 2003: First Bike Part Art Show occurs, with artists contributing bike-related artwork and sculpture for a fundraising and community building event for NBW
- 2005: Mural Arts Program paints indoor mural with NBW in St. Mary’s Church
- 2009: NBW expands with satellite retail shop in North Philly Shop and 2011 by South Philly Shop
- 2010: First Ride of Dreams takes group of youth and adults on ~250 mile bike ride to Harrisburg and back, followed in subsequent years by trips to Washington, D.C., the Poconos, and Hershey, PA
- 2011: NBW youth and staff travel to the first ever Youth Bike Summit in New York City
- 2013: NBW launches the Youth Bike Education & Empowerment Program (YBEEP) to engage youth in longer term skill-building and leadership development activities
- 2015: NBW moves all operations to Lancaster Avenue to better accommodate the needs of our growing youth and community programs
Stop by our shop to see this beautiful illustrated history of NBW by Chrissie Bonner.