Brakes that don’t work, deflated tires, a broken shifter — a lot of the bikes Chris Dempwolf sees people riding on around York aren’t safe.
One bike at a time, he’s trying to change that.
Chris makes up a third of Bike York, a volunteer initiative to help people ride safely. The group, which includes Andrew Gobel and Craig Walt, opens its free pop-up bicycle repair shop at events and festivals like Go Green in the City and York Flea.
The group’s volunteer efforts and collaboration with city officials to add bike lanes, parking and Zagster bike share, contributed to York receiving a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community Designation from the League of American Bicyclists. Philadelphia is the only other city in the state to achieve this level.
While they don’t do major repairs, Chris says a lot of the bikes they see don’t need major work. They just need someone like him who can give them a little love and elbow grease to bring them back to life.
For Chris, a former motorcycle mechanic, it’s satisfying to diagnose what’s wrong with a bike and fix it.
“It may not have a large-scale impact on the world,” he says, “but you impacted someone else’s life in a positive way, and that’s a pretty good feeling.”