Neighborhood Bike Works, a longstanding community bike shop, has combined with its larger location in West Philadelphia. The nonprofit on Susquehanna Avenue near Broad Street officially closed its doors in North Philadelphia and moved to its sister location on 3939 Lancaster Ave. Oct. 31.
Before the move the company had two shops, one at the location north of Main Campus and one in West Philadelphia. The company’s management said it was best to merge.
“We felt that we needed to be realistic to make a big impact,” said Executive Director Erin DeCou.
Neighborhood Bike Works aims to get the most community involvement out of making one bike shop on Lancaster Avenue. The space on Lancaster allows the organization to be more flexible and affect the community around it.
Despite disappointment about Neighborhood Bike Works leaving West Susquehanna Avenue, DeCou said there are plans being discussed for another bike shop to open this winter in the same location. The new shop will be for-profit, DeCou added.
Since starting in the basement of Saint Mary’s Church, Hamilton Village on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus 20 years ago, it is now more accessible to the community. Neighborhood Bike Works runs several youth and adult programs and apprenticeships to teach people about cycling.
Its youth programs are offered after school and students bicycles if they work for them. The programs aim to teach the students the value of hard work and a sense of self-sufficiency, as well as how to repair the bikes. During the past year, Neighborhood Bike Works has increased its youth programs across the city, DeCou said.
DeCou said the organization’s adult workshops aim to connect the community by teaching adults how to repair their bikes. Neighborhood Bike Works also has a youth race team, she added.
DeCou said the move to a single location was necessary because the organization needed to focus on one space. Neighborhood Bike Works hopes to stay at its current location for the long run and DeCou said she does not see them moving any time soon. The location in West Philadelphia is a prime space for helping community building and growing relationships, she added.
“You are able to engage with the community while biking,” DeCou said.
DeCou’s chosen method of transportation is by bike, and Philadelphia is a great city for cycling, she added. Cycling is less expensive than having a car and can cost less than SEPTA.
DeCou advocates safe biking, like following laws, obeying signs and being aware of one’s surroundings. Drivers also must improve their awareness throughout the city to provide the safest environment possible, she added.
“There’s enough positive benefits of cycling that it’s worth working toward a safer streetscape,” she said. “Cycling can be a really powerful way to get around the city.”
Jonathan Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonnygilbs96.
CORRECTION: In a version of this article that ran in print Nov. 10, it was stated that Neighborhood Bike Works has been cutting youth programs. While this is true in North Philadelphia, the organization has expanded it programs throughout the city. Also, a youth team participates in races, not those involved in the adult workshops.