News & Announcements   

You’re invited to NBW’s 20th Birthday Party, September 10th at 3pm

Neighborhood Bike Works is turning 20 years old this year! Come help us celebrate on September 10th, at our Birthday Party and Bike Donation Drive. The event will be at our new location at 3939 Lancaster Avenue. Eat some birthday cake, learn more about our youth and adult bike education programming and, if you’d like to show your love with a gift, donate a used bicycle to help fuel our programming! Most of all, this will be a festive event geared toward appreciating our past and present youth, supporters, board, and staff who have worked so hard to make NBW the strong, stable youth development organization it is today!

The event will start at 3pm and run ‘til about 7pm. If you’d like to RSVP, please do so at our Facebook event page. See you then!

A Day at NBW’s Summer Camp

It is 9:00 AM and the campers just finished eating breakfast at NBW. Now the young cyclists are tossing two colorful balls around in a circle, a game organized by the youth counselors to get the younger youth to remember everyone’s name. “Chris to Nasir”, “Nasir to Simone”. The soft balls fly around the shop as everyone masters the names and settles in for the day.

After the game is complete youth pull from the rack the NBW fleet bike they are borrowing for camp. They put their helmets on, and begin doing an ‘ABC quick check’ on their bikes. During this second of week of camp the Air, Brake, Chain (ABC) checks are routine. The youth assess these basic components before every ride. It isn’t long before the campers are lined up and ready to ride along the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) to Paine’s Park where they will try out the ramps on their bikes.

Every morning at camp, youth wheel their bikes outside and ride to various destinations – Mill Creek Farm, Bartram’s Garden, Woodlands Cemetery, Cobbs Creek, and more. In the afternoon they are back in our education hub to share lunch, chat with new friends, and work on the bikes they will take home at the end of the camp.

Campers wrap up their projects just before 4:00 PM and, with help from staff, they clean up their work space before leaving for the day. When the campers arrive for the next day’s adventure, the education hub will be just as they left it. After all, this place belongs to them.

Launching a National Network: NBW Youth Council’s Big Idea

WE READY! WE COMING! WE READY! WE COMING! This was the chant that could be heard echoing across the Quad at Macalester College during this year’s Youth Bike Summit. Held over Memorial Day weekend seven NBW youth and four staff traveled to St. Paul to connect with youth cycling organizations from around the country.

Youth workers, activists, organizers, educators, and presenters all converged on the city of St. Paul to attend this whirlwind of an event. During the Summit youth and adults led over 30 workshops, lectures, and discussions on cycling-related subjects, ranging from teaching bicycle mechanics across language-barriers to turning bike parts into art and jewelry. Another workshop dissected how bicycling organizations can become more accessible to people who have different abilities. One workshop offered participants ideas on how youth cycling organizations can resist the mass incarceration of youth and people of color. Several other panels encouraged and coached individuals to develop their entrepreneurial and fundraising ideas.

Beyond workshops, the Summit featured an Open Mic Night, live musical performances, a “Slow Roll Ride” through the Twin Cities, and inspiring keynote speakers.

Keynote speakers shared their experiences working for safer streets and designing welcoming public spaces. Several of their stories even mirrored those of attendees since two young speakers got their start with youth bike organizations. Those young speakers’ advocacy has resulted in a $2.3 million grant for better bike infrastructure in Santa Ana, CA.

Neighborhood Bike Works showed up at the Summit in full force. In a packed room, NBW’s Youth Council delivered a presentation in which they walked the audience through the process of creating and maintaining a youth council. They also shared their bold vision for creating a national network of youth councils. The network will serve to develop fledgling councils and share ideas on how to support youth leadership in and outside of cycling organizations. In the coming months, they’ll be recruiting many of the summit’s attendees to serve as inaugural members.

Mel’s Community Bike Shop Supports NBW & Provides Affordable Used Bikes

At Neighborhood Bike Works, our bike shop is called Mel’s Community Bike Shop. Named in honor of the late Mel Gross through the generous support of Len and Susan Lodish as well as the Gross family. Mel was a bicycle enthusiast and loved building bikes out of recycled bikes. Mel’s has dual purposes: To provide NBW with earned-income to support our youth bike education programming, and to provide community members with affordable bikes for transportation or recreation.

Starting this summer, our shop will begin selling refurbished bikes. Since moving to our new Lancaster Avenue location, we’ve discovered there’s demand for used bikes that are both affordable and ready-to-ride. Up until now, we’ve sold only “as-is” bikes, which required additional repair work before they could be ridden safely. To serve this interest in refurbished bikes, all of the bikes we display in Mel’s Shop will have our stamp of approval as “ready to ride.” Soon we’ll allow test rides on those bikes as well, working with customers to find the bike that best fits their body and their bicycling needs.

What hasn’t changed with NBW’s sales shop is our focus on accessibility and affordability. We aim to create an atmosphere in Mel’s Shop where anyone feels welcome and can receive friendly assistance finding their next bike. Our refurbished bikes will be priced with an eye on affordability and we will continue to sell “as is” bikes during our Bike Church program.

Beyond refurbished bikes, Mel’s Shop sells bike parts and accessories. While one can repair their own bike (with mechanical assistance) at Bike Church, we do not provide bike repair services to customers through Mel’s Community Bike Shop.

Stay tuned for a growing selection of refurbished bikes and for expanding hours this summer at Mel’s Shop.

Unstoppable: NBW at the Kinetic Sculpture Derby
NBW's Dragon, photo by Bob Burton, The Spirit of the Riverwards

The NBW team was prepared for challenges along the annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby route, and the challenges came thick on Derby Day.

For one, the forecast called for heavy rain. We brought ponchos and went anyway. The Derby parade route was the longest yet, taking over three hours to complete. We paraded anyway. There were obstacles on the course – slippery, soapy bubbles; unforgiving and unpredictably sloped wooden blocks; and a mud pit where a throng of onlookers would cheer and jeer as we rode through. We pedaled through them all.

The real challenge for the team of NBW youth, staff and volunteers that built and powered NBW’s kinetic sculpture was a wobbly front wheel. Early in the three-hour course the wheel turned from wobbling (out of true) to a very flat tire. In order to stay in the parade, the team pulled over and used its mechanical savvy to replace the tube within the three minute timeframe the course marshals allowed. We did it! We lifted the sculpture, removed the wheel, removed the tire, replaced the tube, and reassembled it all back on our Dragon sculpture in under three minutes.

But a few minutes later, the tire was flat again – punctured by the damaged wheel. We were fated to slog through the rest of the course with the tire duct taped and ziptied to the rim. Still, with the rain holding off (mostly) and parade sculptures including flying pigs, a Snoopy on his doghouse, and a giant roller skate – the team embraced our absurd predicament and surreal environment and muscled our Dragon onward. We cranked on our pedals and rolled through the mud pit (see a video here)!

We would not be stopped by rain, mechanical failure, obstacle courses, or mud. In fact, after we completed the hazardous course, we earned the award “Best 10+ Person Team”. We are proud of our accomplishments this year and already looking forward to a new wheel and next year’s Derby.

Neighborhood Bike Works Announces New Executive Director, Stephen Maluk

*Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Contact: Dena Driscoll, Development Manager

Philadelphia, PA – After several months of planning and interviews Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW) is excited to announce it has selected Stephen Maluk as its new Executive Director. Maluk started his new position May 2.

Maluk grew up in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past 20 years. In that time, he discovered bicycling and realized that while he loved bike culture, he also had a desire to help bring diverse voices and inclusivity to the bike community. Maluk worked for the last six years at Bike Works in Seattle (no formal relation to NBW), a nonprofit youth-serving bike organization and host of the 2015 Youth Bike Summit. Steve served as Bike Works’ Shop & Operations Director, overseeing their earned-revenue bike shop and bike-recycling program. He has also worked as a bike mechanic and an alternative transportation planner. In June he was have completed an MBA in sustainable business from Pinchot University in Seattle.

Maluk shares “I’m incredibly excited to be joining Neighborhood Bike Works and am inspired by the organization’s clarity of vision around bicycling, youth development, and social justice.”

Gerry Marron, NBW board president adds, “Along with the board of directors, staff, youth, volunteers and our community we are excited to welcome Steve into our family as the new Executive Director at NBW. Steve stood out as an ideal candidate as he had extensive experience in a sister-organization, Bike Works in Seattle, where he managed and grew their non-profit Bike Shop. In addition, his awareness and proactive stance on social impact issues close to NBW hearts and values showed a deep concern and an intentional push toward diversity and inclusion. We are eager to support him and the staff as they continue to grow and advance our organization.”

About Neighborhood Bike Works:
Neighborhood Bike Works provides educational, recreational, and career-building opportunities for urban youth in underserved neighborhoods in greater Philadelphia through bicycling; it also promotes cycling as a healthy, affordable, environment-friendly form of transportation.

In 2016, NBW celebrates our 20th year of engaging and educating Philly youth. Since 1996, we have introduced thousands of young Philadelphians to the joy and freedom of cycling. Last fall, we completed a major organizational restructuring and relocation to create a new Community Shop and Bike Education Hub on the 3900 block of Lancaster Avenue, at the convergence of the Belmont, Mantua, and Powelton neighborhoods.

Youth Win On and Off The Course

On this week’s ride with the Cadence Youth Cycling (CYC) team Adiva asks, “Should we brake in the turn?”

Adiva is often the first person to ask questions. This time, several of her teammates have responses. Billy says the best reason to brake in a turn is for safety reasons – for instance if someone is too close to you when you round the corner. Lucas and Tamia recommend braking before the turn and keeping your speed as you round the bend.

Throughout the practice Lead Coach Blake summarizes responses, poses questions, and demonstrates the various race techniques. After Adiva’s teammates weigh in on her question, Blake advises that you never want to brake in a turn, but you always need to be prepared to “feather” your rear brake.

By now, several weeks into the Cadence program, “feathering” is a term they have all heard before. The Cadence Youth Cycling program, operated in partnership with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, prepares youth to race competitively. That means these teens aren’t only riding on their blocks – some are entering races while others are rounding out their bike handling skills by learning how to descend long hills and find their place in a paceline.

As the team practices cornering techniques on a small oval loop at the edge of Fairmount Park, it is clear that these young riders know more about cycling than most adults you find in a bike shop. Beyond wearing race kits, the team members straddle light road bikes, and use phrases like “scrub speed,” “take the best line,” and “set up on the outside of the turn.”

After a few laps around the oval loop Blake says, “I’m hearing a lot of braking during the turn.” He offers a few tips for how to take the turn. Several more laps around yield results for Sufyaan, Asteria, and others. In the span of a two hour practice, they are making tighter, more controlled turns.

After practice is officially over, back at the shop, a few team members cluster around a cell phone to watch a cycling pro on YouTube and banter about racing, bikes, and training. This is winning. When racing, bikes, and fitness bleed outside the lines of structured programming and seep into a teenager’s social life and personal passions, we’ve all earned a serious win.

Bike Industry Reps Share Pro Tips with NBW Youth

Everyone knows that getting a job is the first step to earning a paycheck and getting a promotion, but figuring out how to land a job as a Philly teen is akin to deciphering a foreign language without a textbook.

It’s hard. It’s hard because employers put interviewees on the spot and ask tough, personal questions. It’s also hard because most teenagers don’t know what to expect from the interview process. How long is an interview? What will they ask? What if you have a family commitment scheduled during your first months on the new job?

One of the purposes of NBW’s Leadership and Advanced Mechanics Course (LAMC) is to act as a textbook – to demystify the hiring process and to let young people practice interview skills. Last week, we invited five individuals who work in the bike industry to share stories about how they got their jobs and what those jobs entail. Students were able to learn from a group that included bike mechanics, bike advocacy coordinators, and everything in between. Representatives from Indego, Advanced Sports International (maker of Fuji Bikes), Trophy Bikes, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia participated.

Amir asked the panelists, “How did you get the job you currently have?” while JJ followed up with, “What skills or experiences do you need to succeed in your job?”

Panelists responses varied widely, and included technical skills like what students learn in Earn-A-Bike, in addition to qualities such as a willingness to learn and ability to troubleshoot. From Waffiyah, Safe Routes Philly Coordinator at the Bicycle Coalition: “staying organized is key. Google Drive is my best friend.” Students laughed along as Mike, owner of Trophy Bikes, acted out selling a bike and reminded everyone, “no one has ever died selling a bike. You are doing a good deed!”

Following the panel, LAMC students soaked up tips during mock interviews and small group conversations. Two students were floored to find out about the three step process one of the panelists went through to get her current position. A phone interview, in-person interview, and essay questions were more than they bargained for. What else did the students learn? Punctuality is a hallmark of professionalism. Many employers disregard the applications of interviewees who arrive late. And what to do when you get someone’s business card? Pro tip from Mike of Trophy: on the card write down when and where you picked up the card. When you follow up with the person, you’ll be able to tell them exactly when and where you met.

Beyond the many tips and tricks panelists shared, the main takeaway: getting a job isn’t magic. It is about a lot of things – technical skills, attitude, references, networking, and more, but it isn’t predestined, accidental, or a miracle. It won’t be easy, but with a little practice and some extra insight from the pros, our youth leaders will be a lot more prepared.

Neighborhood Bike Works Announces Departure of Long Time Executive Director, Erin DeCou

Monday, February 01, 2016

Contact: Dena Driscoll, Development Manager

Philadelphia, PA – After leading Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW) for four years, Executive Director Erin DeCou has announced that she will leave the organization in late spring. “It has been a privilege to work in this dynamic organization, to support young people in pursuing interests, skills, and opportunities,” DeCou said. “We have such a huge network of supporters, volunteers, youth and parents, and so much potential as we get settled into our new neighborhood. We have a committed staff with years of experience to carry on this meaningful work. I have no doubt that Neighborhood Bike Works will move forward with the same momentum and magic that it has cultivated these past 20 years.”

Erin’s leadership at NBW has shown through the accolades and accomplishments NBW has achieved over the last several years including:

• In October of 2015, NBW opened its new home at 3939-3943 Lancaster Avenue; the 3,500 square foot center includes Mel’s Community Bike Shop, an education hub and offices.

• In December 2015, NBW was named one of forty winners of the Barra Award, which acknowledges the qualities of “leadership, performance and adaptability.” The award came with a $50,000 grant.

• In 2014, NBW secured a prestigious Impact100 Philadelphia award to launch an expansion of our youth programs in 2014-2015.

• And most of all serving hundreds of Philadelphian young people in out-of-school time programs where they learn bike mechanics, safe urban riding, explore the city, and gain lifelong tangible skills and healthy habits.

Gerald Marron, board president sums it up best: “While it is sad to lose Erin after all she has done for NBW, thanks to the ample notice she has given the Board of Directors, we have the opportunity to thoughtfully craft a search for our new Executive Director. Our board is highly engaged and have already created a search committee to identify a new Executive Director to build upon and expand what we have accomplished so far. We are very excited about what the future holds for NBW and are so grateful for all the terrific work Erin has done. We are excited to see what she will do next and wish her the best of luck!”

About Neighborhood Bike Works:
Neighborhood Bike Works provides educational, recreational, and career-building opportunities for urban youth in underserved neighborhoods in greater Philadelphia through bicycling; it also promotes cycling as a healthy, affordable, environment-friendly form of transportation.

In 2016, NBW celebrates our 20th year of engaging and educating Philly youth. Since 1996, we have introduced over 5,500 young Philadelphians to the joy and freedom of cycling. Last fall, we completed a major organizational restructuring and relocation to create a new Community Shop and Bike Education Hub on the 3900 block of Lancaster Avenue, at the convergence of the Belmont, Mantua, and Powelton neighborhoods.

Impact 100’s Impact: Freedom to Ride

In 2015, we were able to launch Freedom to Ride thanks to generous grant funding from Impact100 Philadelphia. The funding allowed us to widen our reach by offering a comprehensive program for youth at schools and community centers in West and Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods in which they refurbished a donated bike of their choosing and used that bike to explore local greenspaces.

Freedom to Ride sessions met twice a week, for a total of 40 hours, at schools, libraries, and community centers throughout West and Southwest Philadelphia. Students learned bicycle mechanics by refurbishing a used bicycle of their choice, then embarking on group rides to Philly’s greenspaces, having learned the rules of the road and general tips on fitness and nutrition. Each session ended with a graduation celebration to honor students’ accomplishments, and everyone took home their new bike, helmet, and U-lock! Our programs instill confidence, inspire a spirit of adventure, and build skills relevant to future success.

Freedom to Ride was largely made possible through collaborative efforts with our Host Partners, whose strong presence in their communities enabled us to offer several sessions throughout 2015. A huge thanks to our partners: Penrose Elementary School, West Philadelphia High School, James L. Wright Recreation Center, Belmont Charter School, Paschalville Free Library of Philadelphia, Wolf Cycles, Francis Myers Recreation Center, and John Barry Elementary School. We’re so proud to have had 99 youth engaged in our programming and 85 youth graduated. Additionally, we hired 9 NBW older youth as Assistant Instructors to co-teach our classes. This opportunity also allowed us to offer our services to nearly 400 people in the community through outreach events providing another 14 NBW older youth with jobs as outreach ambassadors.


© 2013 Neighborhood Bike Works. NBW is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Federal EIN 23-3012779, United Way Donor Choice #14084. Official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling 1 (800) 732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.