Archive for June, 2009

Meeting Minutes 6/23

June 30, 2009

Thank you very much to Linda McGrane for taking notes and typing them up!!!


Community Service Project – Bicycle Mentoring for Norristown Youth

Initial Brainstorming & Planning Meeting

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Location: chez Barbara Rosenberg




Rhonda Bailey, solo cyclist, SRT user

Kelly Cullen, SCU member, SRT user

Dee Anne, Sturdy Girls & SCU member, lives in Norristown

Elaine Feldman, BCP member, volunteers in community projects

Lisa Graves, Moderator, rides w/COS and West Chester Cycling Club (WCCC), former youth advocate

Norman Lazarus, bicycle commuter, SRT user

Laura Mack, SRT user, former teacher, works at U of P

Tom Madle, Chief of COS rides, award-winning ride leader in BCP & SCU

Leland Mayne, President of the Board, Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW)

Linda McGrane, President of BCP, ride/event leader, tonight’s scribe

George Miller, Norristown native

Barbara Rosenberg, BCP member, SRT user, hostess of this meeting  

Steve Trobovic, BCP member, candidate for LAB Certification as Effective Cycling Instructor


Brief History of Problem: Local cyclist Brenda Miller was attacked on Wednesday evening, 6/3/09, @7:30pm, on the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown.  Brenda was heading inbound, towards Phila.  She was punched in the face by one male, who was with five or six others.  Brenda continued riding despite her bleeding, proceeded to the train station, then contacted 9-1-1.  Police and paramedics arrived; Brenda’s injuries were treated.  That incident of violence (not the first) has generated lengthy e-mail discussions & debates, re. plan of action and possible solutions.  A meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, 6/10, at the Norristown Municipal Bldg, between Norristown and Montgomery County officials and representatives of the cycling community.  At this meeting, Barbara Rosenberg had suggested that one potential strategy for improving relations between cyclists who use the SRT and the local residents would be to implement a community service project for the youth of Norristown.


Main Goals for this evening’s meeting:

1. Identify potential partners/collaborators in Norristown to facilitate this project, e.g.,

    Parks & Recreation Dept, Police Athletic league (PAL), local churches.

2. Develop a “work in progress”, recognizing that this project will evolve.

3. Envision and build something sustainable, for long-term future benefit.


Issues/Points discussed:


1)      Lisa reported that WCCC has sponsored a Bicycle program for children aged 5-12 yrs.  For the past three years 40+ bikes have been donated each year.   Program includes a rodea, safety training, and bike handling skills.


2)      Leland outlined the basic details of replicating NBW’s programming and funding:

  1. NBW began as a spin-off of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Phila., for two years.  It has been a separate entitiy for 10 years.  NBW is a 501-c-3 non-profit organization.  “Headquarters” is the parish hall of St. Mary’s Episcopal on U of P campus.
  • Start-up cost $4000-5000 for the first session, assuming that the location has been donated.
  • One course lasts 14 weeks, 1-2 hrs each session.
  • One course can accommodate about 10-16 students.
  • Need donated bikes, need to pay $$ for bike parts and tools, repair stands, helmets (available @ discount prices, $5).
  • Need to pay instructors for both prep time and class time.
  • After the initial session ($4-5K), subsequent sessions cost ~$1000.
  • Funding sources for NBW include private foundations and industry, companies like REI (contributed $7000 cash + in-kind), individuals, federal & local government programs, Delaware Valley Regional Planning commission (BEEP/Bicycle Education Enhancement Program).
  • Most youth who participate in NBW programs are aged 10-15 (middle school grades), most are male.
  • All-female classes can be offered, e.g., Women in the Outdoors is a nation-wide organization with local chapters.
  • NBW in Phila. has spawned its own spin-off program in Chester, located at the YMCA.
  • NBW also offers summer camps – four sessions during the summer, each two weeks long.  Cost is $250 for 2-wk session.  Hours are 8:00am to 4:00pm, including lunch.
  • Some of NBW’s paid instructors are LAB-certified, but not all.
  • NBW classes are required to “earn” a bike.  After completion of the program, participants have a “graduation ceremony”, to which parents are invited.
  • Group rides are scheduled for “graduates” of the program.  For the group rides, 1 adult for 5 youths is the usual ratio.  Adult may be NBW staff or volunteer.
  • Since NBW is located on the U of Penn campus, some of their volunteers are Penn students enrolled in work-study programs.  (Potential source of volunteers.)
  • NBW also offers Bike Repair Courses for adults — $60 for 4 sessions.
  • If NBW started a new program in Norristown, existing bikes would need to be transported from West. Phila. (Univ. City).
  • Time frame for proposal, begin to move forward: end of summer ’09.
  • Program similar to NBW in Boston, “Bikes not Bombs” (est. 1968) has formal training for volunteers in bike maintenance, lesson plans, how to teach kids, etc.


3)      Elaine related her experiences as a volunteer in an after-school hiking program.  Volunteers must undergo a rigorous protocol: first aid training, background check, rules & regulations, re. “transporting” children, ratio of kids to adults, etc.


4)      Devereaux Foundation in Devon/Berwyn – have a bike repair shop, may be able to donate bikes.


5)      Advocates/supporters/conduits for this proposal: Brett Wells, PAL in Elmwood Park, Bill Plichta, Parks and Recreation.


6)      Keep in mind the overall culture in Norristown – get the adults engaged in this, buy-in, parental involvement, community liaisons/church leaders. 


7)      St. Mary’s at U of Penn has a relationship with the Episcopal church in Norristown.


8)      Roles for volunteers – time commitment, types of training involved, job-mapping.  Website “Circle up” was suggested for job-mapping document.


9)      Potential financial sponsors: corporations located on or near SRT: GSK, Wyeth, SEI, companies with large cycling teams, e.g., Wyeth Wheelers, etc.


10)  Other possible ways to raise funds: PayPal on bike clubs’ websites.  (there is another service, similar to PayPal, used by non-profits.)


11)  Write and disseminate press releases to build public support and momentum.  Positive, “feel-good” story.


Plan of Action for tonight:


Leland will develop & distribute to the group a proposal, including details for fundraising, recruiting personnel, time frame & requirements to start the program.


Our three major requirements to be fulfilled are:

  • Partners/Collaborators
  • Locations/Facilities
  • Funding!!!!


LMc tried to think of a clever name for this project, san acronym easy to remember.  Only idea so far is:


Project BRILLIANT (Bicycling Responsibly Inspires Living for Youth in Norristown).


Flower Garden Rest Stop in Norristown?!

June 26, 2009

Below is from Tom To Atlee- as in Burpee.  Atlee did respond that his family no longer owns the company but he did give Tom contact info of the new owners.  I love this idea!

Hey Atlee,  I just had an idea that I wanted to bounce off of you.
There’s an effort to clean-up that area along the SRT in Norristown where the female cyclist was attacked. Could we turn that area into a beautiful flower garden and make it the most scenic area along the trail? I’m thinking of a scenic floral rest stop at that location with benches and beautiful flowers. We could call it the “Burpee Bike Garden”. There’s a group of COS cyclists involved in an initiative to obtain bikes for disadvantaged Norristown Youth. Our plan is to teach the kids cycling skills and then take them out for rides with us.The  “Burpee Bike Garden”  could be a potential meeting place for the rides. I  think it would also be great publicity for the Burpee Seed Company. We have a woman who plans to get media attention for this community outreach and I’d  like to integrate the “Burpee Bike Garden” into the overall program if this seems like something you’d like to take on and support.  Since you’re also a cyclist I thought this might appeal to you. I also know you’re a very busy guy and no offense taken if you decide to decline.

Permanent Space for Norristown NBW project update

June 26, 2009


This just in from George Miller   Bill Plichta  (Norristown Parks) and I spoke yesterday, 6/25 ..I gave him the idea of needing about 750 sq feet of permanent space for a Bike Works like project…he felt there would be space available either at the Police Athletic League building or possibly at what is called the ‘Band Shell’ in Elmwood park , a well known easy to find building near the PAL building…he will research the possibilities and get back to me Monday the 6/29th…if he scores with a location , I will meet with him and eyeball it myself.

George MIller

Norristown Recreation Department

June 22, 2009

The contact at Norristown’s Recreation Department is Bill Plichta,, 610-270-0467. He is your first line of contact for setting up any recreational program within the borough. He collaborates with Brett Wells over at the PAL center and is the central point of coordination for any effort. Bill ran the Parks & Recreation Department for me when I worked for the borough and is a great guy for this job.

The NPD confiscates bikes throughout the year and auctions them off in October. They make a few dollars, but not much. Maybe those bikes could be donated to a youth cycling program?

As I have some extensive relationships within the borough and once had the Parks and Recreation Department under my supervisions, I would be happy to make some contacts to start the process. I gained much respect for Bill when he worked for me and would enjoy the opportunity to work with Bill him again.

Wayne Gregory

From Prez of Board of Neighborhood Bike Works

June 21, 2009

don’t know for sure but we have probably met at some time or
> >another, I know I’ve read some of your ride reports. I’m president
> >of the board of Neighborhood Bike Works (
> >The recent situation in Norristown has us thinking that we’d like to
> >establish a program there. We already have programs in several
> >Philadelphia locations and have recently opened a location in
> >Chester. Most of our existing program locations are partnerships
> >with other agencies. At present we don’t have the financial
> >resources to open a Norristown location on our own but if we could
> >find a partner or partners with space and some financing we could
> >run earn-a-bike classes. As you seem to taking the lead with this we
> >were wondering whether you had any ideas about possible partner
> >agencies or if you could keep us in mind in your contacts with
> >various Norristown agencies.
> >Please let me know if you need any more information.
> >
> >Thanks
> >–
> > Leland Mayne, LCI #831 President
> > Neighborhood Bike Works
> >215-386-0316 NBW 3916 Locust Walk
> >
> >

Neighborhood Bike Works

June 21, 2009

We are delighted to hear from you.  We had just begun a movement to do what you are suggesting or something similar, and we would be thrilled to avoid reinventing a wheel that you have so finely trued.  Please join our meeting on Tues. at 7:30 (you are welcome to come earlier) at my house,  in Wayne (directions attached) and help us make a great leap forward in our work.
This came out of the SRT incident and a speech that I heard reminding me of the need to do good work.  I thought that in addition to the preventive actions being taken, we should think about what we can do to break down the barriers that contribute to the hostility.  Others were quick to jump in, and of course your model was cited.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
Best regards,
Barbara Rosenberg
> Thank you for contacting me, right now, I am a bit upside down with
> the planning of what I am doing, but I intend to be wrapping up the
> bulk of my security project by the end of June. I have a group of
> folks who are interested in performing community outreach in this
> area, and while I do not think it will help us with some of the bad
> seeds, I also realize that not all of the seeds in the area are
> actually bad. I am willing to help, I had a thought about this one
> building on the SRT right in the area where the focus happens to
> be.. I am guessing you have ridden the trail and are aware of that
> section between Haws Ave and the Markley Street over pass, but there
> used to be a cafe there called the outbound cafe…
> MAYBE the guy who owns the property would be receptive to hosting
> such a venture.. God knows, something needs to be done to make the
> area desirable for people to WANT to hang out, not just hang out
> because they HAVE to…
> I will be carboning some of the folks who have been actively
> expressing an interest in making community outreach a reality.
> So allow me to introduce Barbara Rosenberg, Steven Trobovic, and Tom
> Madle… I will be willing to help personally, but not till I get
> the latest project off of the plate.. 😉
> Steve Scheetz

PAL as resource

June 21, 2009

Hello Tom,

I will be away for this meeting.  But wanted to offer this as another place to provide cycling skills to kids in Norristown.  

The Police Athletic League has a building on Harding Blvd just a few blocks off of Markley St in Norristown.  I would guess that making contact with someone from PAL to try to schedule a cycling clinic might be a good place to start.  The PAL building is not far from an entrance to the Norristown farm park which would be a good place to take new cyclist to teach them riding skills.   Just a suggestion.

John W Moser

Developing comraderie between club cyclists and Norristown youth

June 21, 2009

My personal feeling is that we should steer away from intimate one-on-one meetings early on. i think getting a group of 3 men and 3 women ( six adults)   to work with a group of  6 youth might work best. This will give the youth a chance to meet others from their own area who are also interested in cycling. They will develop some friendships and comaraderie, similar to what we experience as cyclists.

I’ll talk to some of the guys at COS and see what I can do.   Tom Madle


June 21, 2009

John Moser suggested working through PAL (the Police Atheletic League) which is located near Norristown Farm Park. That would be our potential “umbrella” agency. We could teach the Norristown youth cycling skills at the Farm Park. Could PAL do background checks on the volunteers as well as the youth? That is a safety aspect that must be considered.

UPenn recovers 1000 abandoned bikes annually

June 21, 2009

Hi Tom,
I thought the following may be of some interest to you in you Outreach initiative:
A few months ago I was reading an article in the Mainline Times about a group of students at the Haverford school who won an award of some kind for building a human-powered generator made using an old bicycle and other “recycled” components. One very interesting note in the story was that the students did some research on sources for used bicycles and found that UPenn recovers approximately 1,000 abandoned bicycles every year. The article did not give any further details, but I found this number to be incredible. Even if it’s off by a factor of 5 its still a large number of used bikes they have to dispose of each year. Not to mention that UPenn is only one of about 40 Universities and colleges in the Philadelphia area.
I hope this information is of some help.
Best Regards,

Bruce Richards