That’s right. It’s fall, and despite all my thinking to the contrary last spring, the Community Cycling Center (with funding help from the Bike Gallery) was able to pull off one more Bike Club. That means that 11 more kids are learning how to bike safely on the road, adjust their helmets, make sure their bicycles are safe, do basic flat tire repair, ride to places in their community, lock up their bikes, and otherwise become well-equipped for their own transportational independence.
This has been a pretty high-spirited group–not too excited to sit still, but exceedingly psyched to get on their bicycles and explore their community. Their favorite ride so far has been one where we let each kid lead our bike line for a few minutes, leaving all the decisions up to them. They enjoyed taking us down unpaved alleys, across Cully and Prescott a few times (yikes!) and toward their own houses–and the best part was that even though my co-teacher Joseph and I really had no idea at any given moment where our line might lead us, it was always done safely and considerately. We would have been able to step in at any moment to avoid catastrophe, but neither of us had to. I have high hopes for these kids once we turn them loose with the bikes they’re about to earn.
Since we started this class 5 weeks ago, the kiddos have become experts on both personal and mechanical safety checks. That is, they can check to be sure not only that their helmets are well adjusted and that they personally are safe, but also that their bikes are road-ready and mechanically functional.
But this time around with Bike Club, we’ve really focused on getting these guys out on the road. We’ve taken a bunch of awesome rides–sometimes to a destination like the library or another school, sometimes just around the neighborhood–and given the kiddos lots of practice locking and unlocking their bikes. One of the biggest things we hear from kids is that they used to have a bike but it got stolen; hopefully all this practice with locks will help them keep these bikes safe.
(A trip to the Gregory Heights Library let everyone practice locking their bikes–AND we even got an impromptu tour from a friendly librarian!:) Photo courtesy of Joseph Rosevear and the Community Cycling Center)
The best part of Bike Club, though, as always, is how excited these kiddos are to actually earn their own bicycles, bicycles that they now know how to take care of. No, they won’t be able to fix every thing that could possibly happen to their bikes; no, they probably aren’t going to make the safest traffic decisions 100% of the time; I’m sure some of them will probably be seen riding without helmets at some point–but they sure know a heck of a lot more than I did when I first started riding my bike around. And hopefully we’ve given them enough tools to be able to use the resources in their own communities to keep themselves rolling.
They graduate on Thursday–go forth, Bike Club kiddos, and be free!:)
For more information about the Community Cycling Center and Bike Club, check out the latest blog post over there (written by me!:) or their information about youth programs. More of their pictures can be found here.