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June 15, 2021

South Monterey County youth learn about bike repairing in Greenfield

Community workshop teaches valuable life skills

GREENFIELD — Local youth were able to learn important bicycle safety skills and needed bicycle equipment at the Greenfield Community Science Workshop’s Bike Repair Workshop.

Youth were able to bring their bicycles over to the GCSW site on El Camino Real to work on repairs on Nov. 21. They were taught how to repair the problems they faced with their bikes rather than have an adult do all the work for them. Nearly 50 youth of all ages showed up, while 15 of them received free bikes.

“They think they’re getting a bicycle, but actually they’re learning all these really valuable skills about how to solve a problem, how to use tools, how different materials fit into each other,” said Curt Gabrielson, co-director of GCSW.

Free bikes were the result of donations, either from individuals or from partner organizations such as the landfill, which Gabrielson said pulls out bikes that can be salvaged with a little work.

“They pull out the bikes people are throwing away and if they’re in decent shape they save them for us,” he said. “They started saving about a month ago, so we had to make two trips down there. Normally we have a trickle of people giving their bikes and bikes we find. We went out of our way to have a whole herd of them this time.”

Youth can bring by their bikes to learn how to repair them during the normal open hours of GCSW, but Saturday was a special day with a focus on bicycling. Monterey County Health Department co-hosted the event and gave out free bike helmets to any child who needed one and taught them about safety.

While GCSW had been open with workshops multiple days a week, Covid-19 health concerns have caused it to shift to an open workshop schedule of three days a week with a sign-in process that includes taking participants’ temperatures, disinfecting hands and reminding everyone about maintaining social distance.

Among the many possible repairs for bicycles, one was a clear top concern for the youth who showed up.

“About half the kids had flat tires and all of the donated bikes have flat tires,” Gabrielson said. “That’s a great skill to have.”

Another common repair were the gear shifter systems, since it’s easy to hit the fragile derailleur mechanism on a curb or rock during normal riding. 

“We also had a donation of bike lights that were made for electric bikes, but we had modified them so the kids made a battery pack and switch system to hook it up to these bikes,” Gabrielson said. 

The fancy LED lights normally would hook into an ebike’s system, but needed rewiring to connect them to a power source using new batteries, all of which the youth had to work on themselves, which added to their knowledge and skills.

“They made the whole thing, the battery packs, the wiring, the switch,” Gabrielson said. “The electric bike headlights had four wires. They had to figure out which ones to use.”

He said GCSW and the county health department were pleased with the results and intend to continue the bicycle offerings.

“We do intend to have at least one more at the beginning of the year and see how it goes,” Gabrielson said. “If it goes well, we may have them regularly.”

Youth work spaced apart at the canopied tables during Greenfield Community Science Workshop’s recent bike workshop. There, they repaired bicycles with adult supervision and learned repair skills. (Contributed Photo)
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.

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