December 1, 2020
2020 Year In Review: Reflecting on gratitude and the power of community.
As we approach the end of a year unlike any we have ever known, our team is reflecting on the strength of NYC’s cycling community with deep gratitude. In the face of uncertainty and adversity, bike riders have come together to care for their neighbors, make their voices heard, and look out for those who have risked their lives to save others. We’ve always known that bikes are so much more than wheels and gears, but in 2020, the world learned just what kind of amazing things our pedals can power.
This Giving Tuesday, we invite you to take a look at what your support has made possible in 2020 as we ride on toward a brighter tomorrow.
A NEW APPROACH TO BIKE EDUCATION
When the pandemic forced us to cancel our classes and programs indefinitely, we were at a loss of how to carry our mission forward. But with public interest in cycling surging as people around the world sought new ways to commute, run errands, and exercise, Bike New York’s education staff rushed to produce a series of “how to” videos covering basic traffic safety and bike maintenance tips. Within weeks, these videos surpassed 15,000 views. Our Bike Education At Home series was born, and with it came our first foray into digital programming.
Since April, we’ve built a robust online resource of educational materials for parents and remote learning instructors, and we’ve held over 60 free online class sessions covering some of our most popular education topics. These sessions, led by Education Director Rich Conroy, have already drawn over 1,150 students—and since folks can tune in from anywhere, we’re now sharing free, accessible bike education far beyond the five boroughs.
Of course, nothing compares to the experience of learning to ride or fixing a flat in person, sharing each little victory with your instructor and fellow students. We’re doing everything in our power to ensure a swift, safe return to group sessions—building toward that future, we’ve even opened a new Community Bike Education Center and have held several small-group pilot classes observing COVID-19 protocols. But in such precarious times, we need the support of those who have felt the impact of our work now more than ever before.
Chip in to keep free bike education alive in 2021.
MEETING THE MOMENT
Throughout this challenging year, New Yorkers have united to support each other at every turn. Inspired by the courage and leadership shown in our community, Bike New York has donated PPE to help combat shortages, provided supplies for mutual aid grocery delivery efforts and the Ride to DC, and hosted free training sessions for delivery cyclists.
And when it became clear that overburdened hospital workers were in dire need of socially distant transportation solutions, we were able to step up and show our gratitude. In May, Bike New York partnered with Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn to provide 25 essential workers on the pandemic’s front lines with bicycles, increasing freedom, flexibility, and comfort in their commutes.
PATHWAYS TO OPPORTUNITY
Building on the partnership we forged with Citi Bike and One Community last year, we officially launched our Bike Path program to help formerly incarcerated Brooklynites take steps forward through vocational training, job opportunities, and a supportive community.
The pandemic presented no shortage of difficulties to the Bike Path program, but the momentum of this crucial initiative couldn’t be stopped. The Brooklyn Navy Yard generously donated use of their facilities, allowing us to provide socially distant conditions for participants and expand the size of our cohort. After completing a rigorous 60-hour training course, 39 Bike Path graduates were hired into full-time bike mechanic positions with Citi Bike. We’re grateful to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for sustaining and enriching this program, and our thanks to local elected officials and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for their enthusiastic support.
Donate today to help power the Bike Path program in 2021.
A STRONG SEASON FOR THE BIKE LIBRARY
Reopening our Bike Library during the pandemic required flexibility and innovation, but we managed to make this season a successful one for visitors to Shirley Chisholm State Park. Even with ridership limits in place to protect the health of riders and staff, our fleet of 70 bikes powered 4,632 free rides between late July and early November—a clear demonstration of the high demand for outdoor opportunities to exercise, relieve stress, and safely socialize.
We continued to observe the benefits of safe trails and roadways we first noted during last year’s pilot program: in a stark contrast to the estimated 80-20 split of men to women among bike riders on NYC streets, Bike Library borrowers were 60% female in 2020. Our socially distant programming meant 84 visitors were able to take on-bike Learn to Ride classes, and we distributed 44 bikes and 77 helmets at our Bike Swap events.
Until we can safely resume the robust in-person programming that defines our public presence, we’ve brought the love of cycling online through virtual classes and new events.
Responding to our community’s desire to make real change on their home streets, Bike New York launched its Street Action Now! program over the summer. This initiative guides participants in how to assess street conditions, perform street audits, and present recommendations to local community boards, giving NYC residents a concrete way to get involved in public space improvements.
The pilot program’s interactive webinars and one-on-one discussions, coupled with observations made by our intrepid 30-student cohort, will shape Bike New York’s future discussions with NYC DOT. Our second session kicks off next week—apply by 12/2 to join our Street Crew!
Just last month, we debuted our virtual Spoke Series as a way to bring our supporters into conversation with city leaders and industry experts, aiming to explore everything from hot-button advocacy issues to key cycling lifestyle topics.
Our first Spoke Series event, featuring City Council Member Carlina Rivera and urban planner Mike Lydon, examined the renewed effort to expand NYC’s Open Streets program—a point of much discussion during the pandemic. We aim to make Spoke Series a virtual programming fixture in the new year and plan to invite mayoral candidates to address topics important to cyclists and all street users.
If you’ve enjoyed our virtual programming, you can help us EXPAND OUR OFFERINGS in 2021.
WE RIDE TOGETHER
The cancellation of our full calendar of 2020 events struck a hard blow to our team and our community—but at our core, we cyclists are a resilient bunch. To keep Bike New Yorkers connected to each other and to their bikes through the pandemic, we held our first-ever virtual event, the Spoketober Challenge, in October. Over 1,000 cyclists—newbies and century champions alike hailing from 34 states and seven countries—took on the challenge of riding for 31 days straight in support of our free bike education programs.
Along the way, they created a vibrant virtual community where they traded pictures, videos, and stories. And while there was some friendly competition for points and prizes, the real prize at the end of the day was the boosted spirits and peace of mind that come from sharing the love of the ride.
While we welcome the generosity of our supporters, we recognize the financial burden that many are facing this year. If you’re moved by our mission, there are so many other ways to give that make a huge impact: Spread the word about our online classes among your friends and family. Apply for our next Street Action Now! cohort. Take part in our 2021 virtual events and let us know what types of programming you’d like to see. If a loved one asks you for gift ideas, consider a Bike New York Membership or an item from our shop. Donate your old, unused bike to Recycle-A-Bicycle. Or get in touch to volunteer.
Your belief in our work is invaluable to us and TO the people we serve.