On a frigid Saturday in March, Bike New York’s Recycle-A-Bicycle warehouse in Long Island City shop is buzzing with activity—10 middle school–aged youth from Sunnyside Community Services are beginning their Earn-A-Bike and TD Five Boro Bike Tour Youth Ambassador journeys. They’ve been selected from a larger group of students who participated in Bike New York’s Summer and After School programs, and their challenge is to build the bike they’ll ride in this year’s Tour.
First up: learning how to fix a flat. Bike mechanic and instructor Lisa Rodriguez hands out patch kits and everyone is taught how to repair an inner tube. In the second hour, each young person chooses a bike that they’ll be completely overhauling. “Don’t choose a bike just because of its color,” cautions Karen Overton, Recycle-A-Bicycle Director. She and Lisa steer students to bikes that fit. In the following classes, students break into teams of two. Youth Ambassador Neveaha Morrison teams-up with Officer Jason Carmen, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Neighborhood Affairs officer who lends guidance and support to the group, including driving them to the shop in a NYPD van each Saturday. He feels it’s important to be a role model, and that means spending quality time with youth in the neighborhood.
“DON’T CHOOSE A BIKE JUST BECAUSE OF ITS COLOR,” CAUTIONS KAREN OVERTON, RECYCLE-A-BICYCLE DIRECTOR.
A few weeks later, after other key build stages like bottom bracket overhauls, brake and gear cable assemblies, and a safety check, the moment the students have been waiting for arrives: a test ride. Donning their new Bike New York–branded helmets, the Youth Ambassadors set off on a three-mile group ride to their home base at Sunnyside Community Services, where they arrive 45 minutes later. Success!
The Youth Ambassadors will continue to spend their Saturday mornings until the Tour on training rides with Bike New York instructor David Hong to build their endurance and handling skills. Bike New York is proud of the Youth Ambassadors, and we can’t wait to see their hard work pay off when they ride 40 miles of NYC streets on bikes they built by themselves, together. However, the journey doesn’t end there: They’re excited to bring their bikes home, and just in time for summer. They earned it!
2018 YOUTH AMBASSADORS