Watch: Anna Baeth '09 Works Bicycle Magic in Chester
Chester Neighborhood Bike Works (CNBW), newly founded and run by Anna Baeth '09, works with volunteers and members of the Chester community to rebuild bikes and to teach bicycle safety and repair. Baeth modeled the program after Philadelphia Neighborhood Bike Works, where she volunteered last summer with the help of a Summer Social Action Award from the Swarthmore Foundation.
During a recent evening at CNBW, located in the Chester YMCA, Baeth joined volunteers Jeff Cao '10 and Natalie Stone '09 in repairing bikes for future sale. Stone, a first-time volunteer, learned to inspect a donated bike for necessary repairs and, armed with plenty of sandpaper and Simple Green, also learned how to properly clean it. Cao, who has volunteered with Bike Works since the beginning of the semester, identified and repaired wheels with broken hubs.
CNBW's goal is to establish an Earn-a-Bike program, in which students will learn about bike safety and repair by working on bikes that have been donated to the organization. Some of that work began over fall break, when CNBW hosted local eighth graders and scavenged damaged bikes for their parts. After completing the program, participants will get to keep the bikes they've fixed and will also receive helmets, bike locks, and water bottles. CNBW also plans to implement a program in which adults and teens who have completed the Earn-a-Bike program will not only repair their bikes, but will also host group bike rides around Chester to promote cycling as exercise and transportation.
"I truly believe this program can be as successful in Chester as it is in Philadelphia," says Baeth, a sociology and anthropology major from Frederick, Md. "But in order to be successful, we need people who can give a little. Most people seem intimidated either by bicycles, Chester, or kids, but honestly, none are too challenging, especially at CNBW. I simply want people to know that if they want to help or make a difference, they can do it here, no matter how much they know about bikes!"
Chester Neighborhood Bike Works is currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers regardless of experience. Rides to the Chester YWCA leave from Benjamin West Parking Lot for sessions that are held Monday and Wednesday nights from 7:30 to 9 p.m. and Sunday afternoons from 1 to 3 p.m.