People often associate bike riding with the quintessential freedom of childhood summers and its benefits for physical and mental health as well as for the environment. For many in our community, however, the cost of a bike is prohibitive. And a bicycle and safe routes to ride can make a critical difference for access to work and other essential activities.

The Kennett Trails Alliance (KTA) and Bike Kennett are working on multiple long-term projects to provide those safe routes to ride, and they’ve teamed up with Trek Newark to provide free bikes and helmets to those who need them at a Bike Fest and Giveaway at Pennock Park (650 W. South Street) on Saturday, July 9, from 9am to noon. All are invited to come enjoy this family-friendly event to celebrate outdoor recreation.

“We’re hoping to give out about 50 free refurbished bicycles (both children and adult size) to community members, as well as new, free helmets, on a first-come, first-served basis,” says Christina Norland, Executive Director of the Kennett Trails Alliance. “People can also BYOB (bring your own bicycle) for free tune-ups and minor repairs.”

Many donations of bikes in good condition, and particularly adult bikes, are needed on July 9th to give to community members who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

In addition to the bike and helmet giveaway and free tune-ups, there will be a music with DJ Sonido Roocher, free ice cream and water ice—while supplies last. “There will also be a safe, self-guided, and family-friendly bike ride from Pennock Park down the Parrish Trail to the Chandler Mill Bridge along the path of the proposed Chandler Mill Greenway,” says Norland. “Informational markers with QR codes will provide riders with more information about the planned Greenway and how they can get involved.”

The last bike give-away event in Kennett in 2018 provided free bikes and helmets to many community members.

Donations needed

Trek Newark will be providing refurbished bikes from their trade-in program, but in order to meet the demand for bikes to give to those who could not otherwise afford them, donations of bicycles in good condition (or needing minor repairs), as well as bike pumps, will be accepted starting at 8:30am. “We’re really in need of adult bike donations for the event,” says Norland.

Because Trek Newark will complete minor repairs (including flat tires, broken chains, and brake and shifting adjustments) before fitting bikes to their new owners, the earlier donations arrive the better. “But we’ll accept donations throughout the event,” Norland says. While donations of helmets won’t be accepted for health and safety reasons, organizers are giving away new helmets donated by Bike Kennett and Kennett Trails Alliance.

“We’re really in need of adult bike donations for the event.”

Biking access and safety

More and more cities and towns around the world are investing in bike lanes and trails, and the KTA and Bike Kennett are working towards this goal for the Kennett area—for recreation as well as for transport. The mushroom workers who walk and bike South Street to South Mill Mushrooms regularly inspire Bike Kennett chair Josie Marsh to work to make biking easier. “The people who walk to Giant along South Street and Scarlet Road (which Kennett and New Garden Townships are consequently working to remedy) inspire me to work on trails and sidewalks,” she says. “I know I feel good when I can bike to places—whether for errands, work, or for exercise, and I would like for everyone to have the opportunity to do so safely.”

Norland agrees. “The simple addition of bike lanes can change not only the character of a community, but also how it thinks about and plans for its future. The KTA has always taken the long view about developing ways to physically connect our community to the awesome natural beauty that surrounds it. The Greenway loop is our signature effort to achieve this goal, and we envision it as a 20-year project that moves forward in partnership with local government and the budgets under which they operate.”

“Kennett is one of the most beautiful and historic communities in Pennsylvania, home to spectacular outdoor resources like State Line Woods, Anson B. Nixon and Chandler Mill Nature Preserve, as well as recreational areas like Pennock Park and Legacy Fields,” Norland says. “Bikes are a great way for people to access these outdoor spaces, and so for us, the inspiration for the event is simply providing ways for more people—especially young people—to get outdoors and enjoy themselves.”

Kennett Greenway progress

“We are making great progress on the Greenway,” says Norland. “On the west side of Kennett, Kennett Township is in the process of completing final engineering on the Chandler Mill path between Hillendale Road and Chandler Mill Bridge. This project is slated for construction in 2023. This path will enable Kennett residents to safely walk or bike down from Pennock Park to Brandywine Red Clay Alliance’s Chandler Mill Nature Preserve. In addition, the Township has received funding to build a pedestrian and bike underpass under the railroad tracks at Pennock Park. This infrastructure is the critical link in extending the Greenway from Pennock Park to Mill and Cypress Streets in the Borough.”

On the east side of Kennett Borough, Norland says, “Kennett Trails Alliance is partnering with Kennett Borough to assess the potential of restoring the east branch of the Red Clay Creek, from Anson B. Nixon to Kennett High School, and transform it into a beautiful public space for all to enjoy. We are kicking off the assessment with the Red Clay demonstration project at Cypress and Dalmatian Streets, which among other things, will provide public access to the creek’s stony beach in that area.”

“The simple addition of bike lanes can change not only the character of a community, but also how it thinks about and plans for its future.”

Marsh looks forward to the day when the Kennett Greenway is a reality and people won’t need to drive to find a place to ride safely. In the meantime, she regularly directs people who want longer trails to the Chester Valley Trail and the Delaware Greenways.

Suggestions for local walks and bike rides from Bike Kennett Chair Josie Marsh.

“Come join us and other community organizations Saturday the 9th and learn how to get more involved in supporting the Greenway and bicycle connections for all in our community,” says Norland.

“We want to thank Trek Newark for making this event possible!” says Marsh.

Anyone with questions can reach out to Josie Marsh or Christina Norland.

Find full details here and the Facebook event here.

All are invited to come enjoy this free, family-friendly event.