We empower kids with bikes, and Bike Club most perfectly embodies our values and vision for our students. Bike Clubs are student-led and give kids the chance to define for themselves what they want for their community and the skills to make their ideas a reality.
In just one short school year, we've started Bike Clubs at five schools and community centers, giving those students the chance to do all kinds of crazy activities and make all kinds of crazy changes.
Last weekend (May 17 and 18) we had our first-ever Leaders' Summit at Clinton Lake, with representatives from three bike clubs in attendance. We rode our bikes, practiced at a skills park (they have bike see-saws?!), roasted marshmallows, learned how to pitch (and pack) tents and reflected on the year behind us.
We talked about the things we like and dislike about Bike Club, our visions for the neighborhoods where the students ride,ideas for the future and even some pretty sophisticated theories of urbanism.
Independence and mobility stood out as the number one thing kids like about Bike Club. We go places they've never been, and they don't need a car or driver's license to do it. All they need is a bike, helmet and maybe a water bottle (students: if you're reading this, bring your water bottles!).
I expected to hear students complain about traffic and angry motorists, and their optimism surprised me. Despite any number of irritating and even potentially dangerous incidents with motorists, everyone there agreed that things have gotten better in just one year, and that what problems still exist have easy, straightforward solutions.
Of course, every time I think kids are going to stick to taking on little problems (like riding their bikes in a safe way so motorists know to expect them or putting up bike route signage or even biking as a signal to others that the streets are safe), they jump ahead into some serious territory.
Someone mentioned trash, which reminded someone else of abandoned houses, which led to drugs and gangs, and pretty soon we were all sitting quietly while a 12-year-old students articulated his version of the BrokenWindowstheory:
"First, someone throws some trash on the ground, then someone else does, then people think the block is trashy and start doing crime there, then there are cops around all the time, so other people think it's dangerous, so they leave and there are more abandoned houses and things get even worse, and then even if there is new stuff, people are scared and don't want to live there."
Wow. This isn't a theory based on abstract "urban environments", this is KCK in a nutshell. These students are taking serious stock of their neighborhood and envisioning something better, something that starts with something as simple as cleaning up.
As we keep working over the summer with some of our students and prepare for 2014-2015, I can't wait to see how our students continue to think big and act even bigger in making their neighborhoods better places to live.
Empower KC kids with bikes! Volunteer training June 7th.
Learn how to lead group rides, ride confidently on the road and join Ride Leaders in making KC a great place to ride!
FreeWheels Bike Clubs are doing some amazing work, but we need your help to make it happen. FreeWheels Ride Leaders keep kids safe out on the road, model how to ride with cars and, perhaps most importantly, get to come on fun bike rides every week.
We will be training new Ride Leaders in just a few short weeks. Come learn how to lead group rides, ride confidently on the road and keep others safe.
Attending the training does not commit you to volunteering with Bike Clubs, but you will have the skills and tools you need to help us!
Ride Leader Training:
When: June 7th, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: 1403 Southwest Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66103
Who: anyone interested in learning how to ride safely with others on the road, and especially those interested in helping Bike Club!
We are looking forward to seeing you there! In the meantime, any questions or concerns can be directed to Ben or Javin.
ROZARKS TRAIL PARTY!
Rosedale Development Association, FreeWheels for Kids, Earthriders Trails Association, and WyCo Parks and Rec are celebrating the official opening of the Mt. Marty Trails. If you're not coming to theFreeWheels Criterium, you'd better be at the trails!