Friday, June 27, 2008

Freewheel Winooski teaches bike maintenance

Burlington Free Press
Published June 27, 2008
By Julia Melloni

WINOOSKI -- Repairing bikes by truing wheels, fixing gears, brakes and chains can be difficult tasks for cyclists, said Steve Scuderi of AmeriCorps Vista.

As a bike commuter, Scuderi learned the importance of maintaining a functioning bike if he wanted to arrive on time for work every day.

Now he's using his knowledge to teach Winooski teens the art of bicycle repair and putting free bikes into the hands of children through a program called Freewheel Winooski.

Scuderi started Freewheel Winooski in April with several Winooski teens through a job skills training program funded with grants from the Department of Labor's Internship Program. The eight-week program provided the teens with an array of bike repair classes along with a small stipend from the $1,500 grant.

Private donors have supplemented the program by providing money to purchase bicycle repair tools.

Freewheel Winooski is located in the old Winooski library on East Spring Street; it is opening workshop doors for the first in a series of bike jams Saturday. Bike jams are sessions where people come to fix their own bikes by using Freewheel's tools.

People can learn how to repair their bikes, ask for help and learn basic bike maintenance. It's also a place where kids in need can acquire a bike or be fitted to a bike they own.

"We focus on teaching job skills to Winooski teens and at the same time having those skills be useful to the community," Scuderi said. "We get bikes donated, then we turn them back out into the community."

Freewheel Winooski offers bike repair services on a regular basis for folks who need more extensive work. Bike jams will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the last Saturday of the month through August.

PHONE: 655-6410, ext. 11
WHEN: Bike Jams, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, June 28, July 26, Aug. 30

Photo Credit: MYESHA GOSSELIN, for the Free Press
Caption: Quinten Lewis, 13, of Winooski adjusts the spokes on a bicycle Wednesday at Freewheel Winooski.

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