With pandemic restrictions relaxing in the past year, New Yorkers were hungry to get out and get on their bikes. The demand for classes, both for adults and for youth, was tremendous, and we were proud to meet our community’s need for bike safety education.
In particular, the relationships that Bike New York staff nurtured with teachers, principals, and youth program directors during the past couple of years paid off, and our Youth Programs made a big comeback in 2022. More than 1,250 kids were served by our weekday programs, including nine different after school groups, 27 summer camps, and 44 school bicycle field trips. We also worked with the New York City Departments of Education and Transportation to restart on-bike, school-day skills programs, which involved training nearly 30 Department of Education (DOE) teachers over eight separate classes. We serviced or repaired 200 DOE-owned bikes, and are still counting the number of youth served by this DOE partnership. The children who benefited the most were those who were learning how to ride a bike for the first time, those in communities where there are barriers to physical activity and bike riding, and those who had an opportunity to see how riding skills can be a part of the school-day experience.
Photo: Bike New York Instructor, Ben Strong
This effort took tremendous coordination, from assigning and communicating with instructors to working with City agencies on the youth school-day programming to getting folks registered. Bike New York hired and trained 10 new instructors in the summer to cover our youth program. We also brought on some new mechanics and our new Bike Fleet Manager to keep the bikes associated with our adult programming running smoothly and safely.
We did hit the occasional bump in the road, as a few of our partner organizations had to cancel their programming. We were able to successfully pivot, however, and reschedule these canceled sessions as adult classes, which were also hugely popular over the summer. This quick change-up allowed us to keep our new instructors busy, and teach thousands of adult New Yorkers how to ride safely and confidently on New York City streets. In fact, a recent survey that we conducted showed that nearly 80% of our adult students continue to ride after taking a Bike New York class.
As our Director of Education Rich Conroy says:
Bike education is at the heart of what Bike New York does (the first Five Boro Bike Tour started as a high school bike education program), and bike education is critical to the growth of a bicycle-friendly city. Building more bike lanes accomplishes a lot, but doing that without bike education is like building schools but not hiring any teachers.
Photo: Kristen Blush
With programming winding down this month, Bike New York and its Education staff are looking toward 2023 and the replacement of up to two of its nearly dozen bike fleets across the city in order to better serve our adult students and ensure that our educational programming continues to grow. Which is where you come in. We’re aiming to raise $20,000 to replace portions of our bike fleet across the five boroughs. If you can give, please visit www.bike.nyc/GivingTuesday to make a donation.
Written by Rich Conroy