Kids’ thank you notes for bicycles

August 4, 2009

Click this link to read the Thank You notes from the kids who received bikes from West Chester Cycle Club.

This is why we are doing this!!


Meeting Minutes 7/7/2009

August 4, 2009
Minutes from the Second Meeting of the NBW-Norristown Project
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Discussion convened at 7:45pm
Attendees: Rhonda Bailey, Elaine Feldman, Lisa Graves (Moderator), DeeAnne Kotzur, Norman Lazarus, Laura Mack, Linda McGrane (Recorder), George Miller, and Barbara Rosenberg (Host).
MISSION: To increase opportunities for urban youth via bicycling.
Focal points for this evening’s meeting:
1) Location
2) Fundraising
3) Action Plan
George Miller met with Bill Plichta (Norristown Borough Parks & Rec), re. two possible sites for the NBW facility.  Both are located in the Elmwood Park neighborhood, center of the borough and “neutral turf”.
     1) Garage with three service bays (used by utility trucks).  Unsure about heating & air cond.  It is lockable, and has space for work benches.
     2) Large room in bandshell
Both of the above facilities are located in a central locus of activity (~3 miles by 3 miles) — Police Athletic League (PAL) is nearby.  Facilities are accessible from the SRT, although there is a hill coming up from the trail.
Site inspections are scheduled for Thursday, 7/9.  Cost of renting should be minimal.
If the above proposed sites do not pan out, John Moser has information, re. another possible venue if needed.  Also, Norman mentioned the possible use of space at a “storefront” church immediately adjacent to the old (now deserted) Breakaway Cafe.
Leland stated that if funding is secured and Andy can recruit staff, 1 & 1/2 months would be a feasible time frame to launch.
Chosen venue will require prep time to install work benches, lock boxes, etc.
There is a link to NBW website for grant-writing.  We will need long-term, sustained fund-raising.
Possible ways to raise money: discussed selling extra tail lights and/or cue sheet holders (BCP left-over Banquet favors).
Per Tom Madle, COS has strict rules against fundraising & sales on church property.
Leland mentioned “Just Give” and “Network for Good“, Paypal-like on-line payment services for Non-Profits.
Group discussed possibility of charging supplemental fees on event admissions for rides such as Schuylkill Century and/or Bike Philly, e.g., adding an extra $1 – $5 (optional/vountary donation).
Another possibility: having display tables at rest stops and/or the Start/Finish, providing info on the project.
Bike shops may be able to donate either cash or bike parts and supplies.
We’ll need to produce: 
       1) a brochure to distribute to bike shops.
       2) a checklist of project needs/requirements
       3) a checklist of volunteer expectations & qualifications
       4) insurance & waiver forms
Fundraising outside of the cycling community, e.g., health care professionals, pharmaceuticals.  Pharma companies located near the trail.
Per LaSalle University’s Institute for Non-Profits, the most stable source of funding is to have a large mass of INDIVIDUALS (vs. corporations).
Use of bike club newsletters and list-serve to increase public interest, support, momentum.
Use of press releases to show ‘before” and ‘after”, progression from early stage to completion.  Show photo of new facility, & photo of instructors with kids, then release updated story every 6 weeks or so.  (People need to see something at least 7 times before message sinks in.)
Tom Madle is persuasive, influential event leader; if we draft material for Tom, Tom will issue it (to his “followers”).
Fundraising for Non-Profits: Guide Star and Charity Navigator.
Monday evening COS cyclist Michele Leonard works for GSK — GSK is close to the trail.
Appeal for extra bikes, parts, tools.  Need ~50-60 bikes.  NBW in Phila. receives some donated bikes from the Police — bikes which were  confiscated, and never ID’d or reclaimed.  (Univ. of Penn police typically donates ~100 bikes/year to the West Phila. NBW.)   NBW has a list of “desirable” bike traits, e.g., wheels 20″ or greater, metric tools, etc.  Most donated bikes are just dropped off at the NBW warehouse.
Possible sources of bike donations (or cash gifts):
     Trek, Bikes Belong, and Fuji.  (In past, Fuji has donated bikes at very, very low cost, e.g., 1 bike at wholesale + 1 bike free.)
Elaine offered to work Leland on the list of needs for the Norristown branch.
We will also need documentation from NBW’s insurance company, re. liability coverage — City of Norristown will require this.
Leland reported that NBW/West Phila. has offered in the past “Bike Safety Check” fairs, with basic repairs done on-site, in a “block party” format.  A tips jar for donations could be set-up.  Norristown Parks Dept could assist with scheduling this type of event.
Other possible sources for donations/fundraising:
     1) Literature/flyers at the Norristown Train/Transit Station and/or PAL
     2) Raffles — prize given for every ~100 donors.
Goal is to try to raise ~$1000 in a month.
                                                     ACTION PLAN
Entire team agreed that e-mail updates, encouraging donations and/or volunteerism, should be sent no more often than once a week, due to e-mail recipients eventually “tuning out”, if e-mails are so frequent that they become overwhelming.
Any literature or updates should be written at 5th grade level for wide-spread reader comprehension.
The NBW website has a check-box to identify donations specifically intended for Norristown.
Rhonda offered to draft a brochure document.  Team discussed possibility of  the flyer or brochure in PDF format, although PDF might not be accepted by certain clubs’ list-serves.
The members of the team, and other concerned cylists, represent and/or have access to all of the cycling clubs and groups in this region.  Each of these will need to be approached:
Sturdy Girls (Dee Anne)
West Cester Cycling (Lisa)
COS (Tom Madle)
BCP (Barbara R., Elaine, Steve Trobovic, Linda Mc, et al)
SCU (Rich Terry, Steve Sheetz, Tom Madle, Linda Mc)
West River Drive Time Trials (Dee Anne)
Delaware Valley Bike Club (LMc knows the President of DVBC)
Brandywine Bike Club (LMc knows a couple in the BBC)
That’s all she wrote — literally.                       La Fin

Donated bikes from Devereux

July 20, 2009

Hello All,

Yesterday, I visited Kevin Coffey,  the manager of the bike facility at the Devereux  Whitlock center, in Devon.  He is very open to donating and/or lending bikes to  establish a Neighborhood Bike Works in Norristown.  He had already heard about the incidents on the trail.  He told me that the Devereux foundation is in complete support of  programs that help disadvantage children.

I told him that I would contact him when we are ready to bring bikes on board.  We are talking about bikes that are user ready, as well as ones that might  need some repair or cleaning and adjustments.   These bikes have been donated to the center.  Some are fixed up  then sold or are donated to support charitable programs. I have donated and bought bikes from the center.  Yesterday, I bought a 20 inch BMX bike for my granddaughter. 


In Kind Donation List

July 17, 2009
Hi All,
One other item that we spoke about, was the need for tools, bikes and miscellaneous items.  That donations of these could help offset costs. Leland kindly updated the NBW “In kind donations” list from their website, specifying needs for Norristown.  I’ve attached that list.  In particular. the first four items on the list were added or modified from the original list for our project. Notice also that the list also contains what not to donate.
I recall that we would put the “call” out to the cycling community for this stuff after the fund drive was underway or completed.  And of course after we had a schedule or means for drop off.  So I believe that this comes next after the bike club list serve email goes out. But here it is for everyone’s reference. 
One possibility for collection:  If we advertise to the bike community the fundraiser of the “drinks along the SRT” for some Saturday, and let them know that this would be the first opportunity to drop off items, might this work if someone had a van to take the stuff the 1 mile at the end of the day?
Thanks again Leland!

Draft List for the Norristown site

In-kind Donation Guidelines

Things we’d especially like for a new location include:

  • Lumber for building work benches
  • Containers for storing tools & parts. old file cabinets are great.
  • Tools,
  • Spare parts, brake shoes, cables, innertubes, tires, etc.
  • Grease and rags! Things get used up pretty quickly, and we always need more.
  • BMX (”trick”) style bikes. These are the most popular with our students.
  • Mountain bikes, road bikes, and cruisers of all sizes.
  • Wind trainers, rollers, etc.
  • Cycling clothes, lights, panniers, and other accessories.
  • Office supplies and snacks including: pens, pencils, stamps, copy paper, water, gift certificates to local food stores, and non-perishable foods like dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, etc. We can also always use volunteers and money!
    • Metric wrenches (esp 10 & 15 mm) & Allen keys,
    • Bicycle specific tools, repair stands, chain tools, BB tools, etc.
    • Small & med screwdrivers, straight & Phillips

Things we can’t use:

  • Things which are not actually bicycles: scooters, roller-skates, exercise bikes, wheelchairs, children’s toy tricycles, and so on.
  • Bicycles meant for very young children. Our youngest students are eight; most are in middle school. While we need lots of bikes with 20″ wheels, we can’t use smaller bikes.
  • Very low-end bicycles. If it came from a big box store and cost less than $100, it’s probably more work to maintain than it’s worth. Likewise, if it weighs 50 pounds and has steel wheels and isn’t vintage or otherwise seriously cool, not many people will want to put the effort into bringing it back to life.
  • Very badly damaged bicycles. If you bent, buckled, or broke the frame in an accident, or if you can’t see the frame for the rust, it’s not safe. Sometimes we can salvage parts from these. If you’re donating a bike for salvage, please alert the person accepting your donation

We have a home!!

July 17, 2009

To All   (Norristown Bike Works committee and friends)

On Monday  7/16 Leland Mayne (Bike Works Board President) and I met with Bill Plichta ( Norristown Parks and Recreation  Director) at the 2 possible sites to house the program….We found a home!  Norristown Borough officials (police chief, mayor and council members, according to Bill ) are happily willing to allow NBW to use either area free of charge….one is about 800 sq ft, at the back of the Band shell,  with heat and water…….. the other space is the equivalent of a 6 car garage ( about 1300 sq ft) with no heat or water ……bathrooms are available  in a separate building……the 2 buildings are about 100 yards apart……Both are within the Elmwood Park area….Leland felt a group of 12 to 15 kids could work  out of the smaller space during the school year (when you need heat) and a larger program could be run out of the larger space in the summer…Leland took pictures……

Note we chose not to follow up on the make shift church “in a warehouse” location at the Break-a-way cafe ( Haws ave) location…for multiple good reasons …..

to get your bearings the Elmwood Park is one mile up Haws avenue from the SRT, so there is a low traffic route to get the kids to the trail from the NBT site….alternatively there is also a lengthy trail within a quarter mile of the Elmwood Park called the Norristown Farm Park trail….(which used to be a working farm to grow food for the 4000+ patients that were housed at the Norristown State “Mental” Hospital,  This property was originally owned by William Penn then transferred to Isaac Norris then to the State of Pa, a little history)

Next steps seem to be, not in order…..Leland etc  to set a target opening, a range of dates……secure the counselors, ..purchase tools , secure bikes , secure funding, communicate with  the public, communicate to the potential kids…open for business…celebrate hopefully in about 2 months


George E. Miller

Dose of Reality

July 6, 2009

I met Bill at the SRT Trail clean up last week.  For two decades Bill has on his own been providing bike maintence training, safety training and mentorship to disadvantaged youth in Reading.  I told him about our initiative. Here’s an email from Bill that is a dose of reality. BTW, I take Bill’s insights as a heads up not as a deterant from our mission. Working under the auspicies of Neighborhood Bike Works does address some of these issues.  Another BTW, I did ask Bill his permission to publish his email since it contains personal info.  Please don’t worry that if you ever email me sensitive info that you will then see it on the blog!  Lisa


Before your group dives into this project you should seek legal advice regarding liability issues.

This is something I had to weigh in my helping of neighborhood youths.

Suppose you provide a bicycle to a youth who then is struck by a car.  A parent or guardian could claim that had you not given a bicycle to the child the accident would not have happened.  The same might be claimed if you fix a non-working bicycle for a child.

Anything of any value here is in my wife’s name alone.  I started legally carrying a handgun, for protection, in 1992 after 8 weeks on crutches.  At the time I was doing case law research for an attorney friend of mine.  He suggested the wife ownership thing in the event I had to use the handgun to protect either of us.  Without nothing of value in my name no fast-buck lawyer would think of taking me into court to recover money for anyone I had to shoot in self-defense.

Several years ago a neighbor child came to me to fix a flat tire on his bicycle.  He then headed out the street.  Two blocks away he failed to stop for a stop sign and ran into the side of a moving car.  Luckily his injuries were minor.

In my neighborhood most children raise themselves on the street.  They usually have a mother who has had numerous male friends who either ignore the children or simply physically abuse them.  They have no one to guide them.  But if the children are injured the mother looks upon it as having hit the lottery.

Generally these children are out late at night and often into the early morning hours.  Just running the streets.  When riding a bicycle they totally ignore traffic regulations.  With this increased risk comes the increased risk for anyone who helps them keep the bicycle in riding condition.

I don’t know about Norristown but here in Reading bicycle theft is a major problem.
Several years ago I had showed the kids the frame number on bicycles and told them to write them down in the event the bicycles were stolen from them.  A few weeks later they start bringing bicycles to me where the frame numbers had been ground off as one might see on a stolen handgun.  In this neighborhood I see bicycles rescued from scarp piles and some stolen from other children.  That is when I started to slowly back out of the whole project.  Since then I have become more selective on who is allowed to come here for bicycle repairs.

As I had told you.  I have been able to teach a number of children how to do their own bicycle repairs.  That number is small compared to the ones who will simply walk the neighborhood looking for a working bicycle to steal.

Last week I got to talk to the Deputy Sheriff who was patrolling the Norristown section of the SRT.  Also the Norristown police officer who was at the brush clearing  work detail.  I was told that Norristown is following in the footsteps of Reading in the number of rental properties  going into Section 8 housing.  If you talk to the police they will off the record tell you that most Section 8 rental properties become drug problems.
Three years ago I had a 13 year old boy bringing bicycles to me to be fixed.  Rarely the same bicycle twice.  A few freshly painted indicated that they had recently been stolen.  Now this boy had several older brothers.  So I took a closer look at this particular family.  Watching the older boys using the bicycles to deliver drugs.  The 18 year-old brother used a cellphone to take the orders.  Using the younger brothers to deliver the drugs to the customers houses.  The whole operation being as if they were in the pizza business.
I still see a few of these deals at night in this neighborhood.  In Feb. we had a drug dealer move into a rental property 4 houses from me.  I watched youths as young as 11 or 12 years old wheel up to the house on junk 20 inch bicycles and then pedal off to make the delivery.  Often they were picking up the drugs for another family member.

Your project has lofty goals as far as getting the “inner city” youths active in riding bicycles.  But once you get an inside view of what these youths do with their time and their bicycles you begin to have second thoughts.  Some of these youths mounted on the typical 20″ bike have become problems on the Thun Trail here in Reading.

You might want to think about another approach to this project.
Here in Reading we have 3 police officers mounted on bicycles.  Acting as Community Officers.  The one who patrols this section of Reading is a friend of mine.  The other week he had a morning at the grade school up the street.  Schooling 8 youths on safe bicycle riding, minor repairs, etc.  He provided the youths with safety helmets.
The other week we saw the West Norriton officer and a Norristown police officer in a tent at Betzwood with a number of helmets and bicycle safety brochures.  You might consider teaming up with the police in this project.  It might look better in the community and provide some degree of protection from being used by the drug dealers and thieves.

Sincerely, Bill Knight


No problem with posting my message(s)on the blog.

Another observation of late.

Two or three years ago the streets around here were full of
youths out on 20″ bikes.  Especially when school is out for
the summer.  This summer I see only a few and I am not
seeing kids showing up to get their bikes worked on.

The local economy is such that I see no new bikes with the
kids.  Added to that is the bike theft problem.  Few of the
parents allow the kids to store the bikes in the house or
apartment.  Left out in the yard overnight and they are
gone.  Even those locked with cables or chains.

The few bicycles I see now are late at night and mainly drug
dealers riding them.


Lead for NBW Location from Tom Madle. Need assistance to get contact info.

July 2, 2009

To All,

I read Norman’s   comments about organizational stuff ( usually takes 6months to 1 yr. for good plan, etc.). My own personal feeling is that we should focus the rest of the cycling season on putting together a good plan  and checking out leads to make this all happen. Regarding leads…….

Regarding a “lead” for affordable space for a Norristown NBW… I noticed that right next to the old ( now defunct) Breakaway Cafe is a newly renovated church. You can’t see the church from the trail but if you walk behind the Breakaway Cafe the front of the church is on that street behind the Breakaway Cafe. The name of the Pastor and tel.# is posted out in front of the church. Church’s love to rent out space at affordable prices to community groups during “off hours” . Can someone who lives  in the Norristown area drive by this church and get the tel.# and name of the pastor . To get to the church just come down Haws Ave.and make a left before the tunnel leading to river park. This will get you to the back of the old Breakaway Cafe. You will see the church next to the Cafe. If we can contact the pastor and he has a positive attitude toward what we’re trying to do we’ll request a walk through of the church with Leland to see if it might be suitable.

We should also check out the PAL building as John Moser suggested. We might be able to do this at the same time. My  feeling is that a location  on the trail for NBW would be preferred although PAL would lend allot of organizational support too.

Thanks everyone!

NBW budget

July 2, 2009

I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to get this out we’ve (mostly exec. director Andy Dyson) been busy getting ready for summer camp & end of fiscal year things.


  Earn a Bike Expenses Equipment                
  Andy Dyson, Executive Director                
  (215) 386-0316 / (215) 873-6695                         
  New name for Account Off site EaB class              
Payroll Expenses:                  
  Salary: Instuctor  $           1,200.00              
  Salary: Program Coordinator  $              400.00              
  Payroll Taxes Expense & Processing  $              400.00              
  Benefits: Health insurance  $              300.00              
Other program expenses:                
  Shop-Tools  $           1,000.00              
  Program Supplies  $              400.00              
  Insurance: Liability  $              200.00              
  Purchases Parts & acces  $              200.00              
  Staff Development  $              200.00              
  Awards: Youth Assistants  $              150.00              
  Awards to youth  $              100.00              
  Graduation Party Expenses  $                60.00              
  Photocopying  $                50.00              
  Postage  $                50.00              
  Telephone: Cell  $                50.00              
  Background Checks  $                40.00              
     $           4,800.00              
  Overhead 15%  $              720.00              
  TOTAL per class  $           5,520.00              

  Andy Dyson, Executive Director                
  (215) 386-0316 / (215) 873-6695                         
* All participants would need to have waivers signed by parents/guardians              
* NBW will supply all bikes and used parts–included in above costs.              
* NBW will supply new parts, helmets and locks at costs listed above              
* If host agency does not want NBW to provide helmets, each youth must still receive a helmet          
Furniture etc that we need to acquire, through in-kind donations:              
* Lumber to make benches if benches or tables are not available                
* Work Benches                
* Shelving                
* Storage boxes, milk crates                
* Filing Cabinets or other secure lockable storage for tools and parts              
* Blackboard or dry erase board                
* Refrigerator for snacks                
* Fire Extinguishers                
Earn a Bike usually needs:                 
* a dedicated space for storage where bikes (50-100% more than one bike per youth) and tools will be secure        
* Workspace in which it is OK to use grease and oil–NBW can provide cardboard mats or carpet if needed        
* Clean up facilities for students-utility sink is better than bathroom sinks              
* If possible, earn a Bike should be only thing going on in a room–bike class is too distracting for other youth        
* This is for 10-15 youth, we can handle more if there are volunteers/staff provided by host agency          
* NBW will occasionally need access to classroom space before and after class for set up          
* Ideally, there will be a playground or other traffic-free outdoor space for bike safety lessons very nearby        

Other NBW outreach program could add to Chalk Art Show

July 2, 2009
Another NBW service that I forgot to mention last week are bike safety checks. We usually are asked to do these at block parties, etc. We invite people to bring their bikes & we go through a checklist looking for safety related problems with the bike. Many small repairs are done on the spot & all problems are explained. The owner is given a copy of our checklist with needed repairs listed. This would certainly be something to do at the proposed Sidewalk Chalk Art Show & could be done sooner & it costs us much less than starting earn-a-bike classes. ~$250-$300 for parts & one instructor for an afternoon. It also serves well for recruiting kids for the earn-a-bike classes.

—  Leland Mayne, LCI #831  President
                         Neighborhood Bike Works
215-386-0316 NBW         3916 Locust Walk
215-898-6580 work        Philadelphia, PA 19104

George working to find a home for Norristown NBW

July 2, 2009

Bill Plichta is saying he has 2 possible sites and is researching a 3rd….Leland I included you so that you would be up to speed re this important component …ie a place to call home in Norristown for this project…..Leland you may recall Ronda volunterred to craft some press releases when this project gets legs…you were going to forward some base written material to use as a start …I cc’ed her on this email so that you 2 could connect on that aspect of the project
I’ll touch base with Bill about the locations on Thursday …
 a place in bike heaven to all
George Miller