It’s spring! It must be time for another season of Bike Club!
(courtesy of the Community Cycling Center)
That’s right. That means that about 65 kids at six different schools are now deep in the process of learning how to ride safely, read maps, fix simple things on their bicycles, repair flat tires, properly adjust helmets, make sure their bikes are safe to ride, and on and on. But not only that. Through their own hard work those 65 kids are also getting to earn their own refurbished bikes, locks, and tools. It’s not bad for an after-school program: these kiddos get to wrench on bikes, bike around for six weeks, and then go home with a brand new (to them) bicycle, the means to keep it safe, and the knowledge to keep it running.
Teaching Bike Club is one of my favorite things in the world. It’s a perfect combination of education, being outside with kids, and riding bicycles, all some of my greatest loves:) But even more than that, it’s so crazy awesome to see these kids become empowered to control some part of their lives with their new-found transportation. How often does someone give you the means to freedom–and the skills to maintain those means?
(kiddos in a line, right where they belong on the street:) Courtesy of the Community Cycling Center)
Sadly, the Portland Children’s Levy, which has been funding Bike Club since 2005, just cut us off. The Levy funds all sorts of different programs for children, and what with budget concerns and who knows what else, it seems that funding for Bike Club was no longer feasible. Kim Whitney, the Community Cycling Center’s Youth Programs Coordinator (and my lovely boss:) wrote a more comprehensive article about it that you can read here, but basically we’re not too sure what comes next. Something will rise out of the funding ashes, and I have no doubt it’ll be awesome, but this may be the last season of Bike Club as we know it.
So I’m approaching it like any other Bike Club, with enthusiasm, energy, and lots of silly games (I love kids who are still young enough to buy it when I try to turn everything into a game:) But there’s some extra love this time around.
We’re going to have to get creative if we’re going to keep matching kids up with bicycles and the knowledge to ride them safely. But I’m convinced that the Community Cycling Center will find an amazing way to do what the community needs. They always do.