— From the pages of FLL Issue #34 • Written by David May | Photos by Summer Crow Photography
The Common Wheel is making Lancaster a finer place by encouraging bicycling as a means of transportation, education and recreation in our community. Our mission is to create a fun, welcoming space where anyone can have access to the tools and expertise needed to ride safely and often—which means fewer cars, less traffic, less pollution and more people enjoying everything that makes Lancaster a great place to live, work and play.
In 2014, we renovated a dilapidated building in Reservoir Park with the help of Lancaster City, local bike shops, corporate sponsors and many generous donors and volunteers. In doing this, we turned a neighborhood eyesore into a beautiful, vibrant gathering space as well as a full-service community bike center. We launched our flagship youth education program, Earn-A-Bike, which empowers kids from twelve to seventeen years of age by teaching them the skills to repair, maintain and safely ride their bicycles.
In this free, six-week-long afterschool program, each student receives a donated bike in need of repair along with hands-on instruction and guidance from our staff of expert mechanics. Students who complete the program get to keep the bike along with a helmet, lock and the confidence that comes with a valuable skill learned in a safe and encouraging space.
Damascene, a fifteen-year-old refugee from Rwanda, is a wonderful example of how this program has impacted the community. Just two months after arriving from Africa, he joined our inaugural Earn-A-Bike class. In addition to the great accomplishment of completing the program,
Damascene has returned to the shop almost daily to refine his mechanical skills. He has even donated bicycles that he has found and repaired them for his brother and cousin so they can ride with him! Damascene joins us for community fun rides throughout town and recently completed a tenmile ride with our service manager Jason—beaming the entire time.
The Common Wheel has been working hard to grow from a startup nonprofit to one that is sustainable and can continue to make a difference in our community for years to come. In addition to foundation grants, corporate sponsorship and income from our sales, service operation and adult workshops, we rely on the generosity of individual donors to support our education and advocacy efforts. Private giving as well as donations of parts and services allows us to focus on our Earn-A-Bike program and a variety of other efforts to make Lancaster a finer place to live for all of its residents.
Please consider partnering with us today and visit us at www.thecommonwheel.com for more information!
701 East King Street, Lancaster PA 17602
(located inside the pumphouse in Reservoir Park, underneath the water tower)