Micro Interventions: Neighborhood Bike Works

The Micro Intervention concept originates from an idea that small incremental change is a more effective and efficient use of resources for urban renewal than large scale planning and design efforts. Because these interventions are by virtue organic and community based, they are applicable, relevant and responsible within that community. Engineers, architects, planners, and landscape architects often fall prey to over-predation of urban design theory and forget that community design is more about designing with the community, rather than for the community. Micro Interventions move past theory and create a new reality of doing with rather than speaking to.

This concept will be explained more fully in future posts and will examine current practices in community design and provide what we think are outstanding examples of positive Micro Interventions.

The first in the series is the Neighborhood Bike Works. I had the opportunity last fall to sign up for a bike repair class offered at their home base in West Philly at 3916 Locust Walk. Neighborhood Bike Works are a nonprofit educational organization in Philadelphia that seeks to increase opportunities for urban youth through bicycling and to promote cycling as an environmentally friendly means of transportation.

There are a number of truly wonderful aspects about this nonprofit that take on the issue of "sustainability" from a grass routes level. They address issues of equity, education, and energy simultaneously.

Earn-A-Bike is their popular flagship program. Over the course of fourteen sessions, youth learn the basics of bike repair and maintenance, safe urban riding, and health and nutrition. Throughout the two month course, they also earn “hours”, which by the end of the course adds up to enough to take home their very own bike. These programs are free to the participants, as all costs are covered by Neighborhood Bike Works and partner organizations.

They have many bike repair classes for adults and children, a bike part art show, group rides and other community outreach efforts
. If you are interested, take a look at their website to see how you can participate.


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