In April 2019, my excited sixth grader told me about a new club starting at his middle school: a bike club. Every week, the club would gather after school to take a ride around the neighborhood. At the first meeting, the kids learned all about bike safety, how to ride on a street properly, and that wearing a helmet is not optional. Then, they started their rides. After a few weeks, they were riding a couple miles every Wednesday after school. My son absolutely loved it. And I loved that he learned how to do something he enjoyed safely.
At the end of the semester, summer loomed. One of the teachers who leads the club approached me. She shared with me that my son’s bike was too small for him. I was prepared for her to tell me what size bicycle he needed, encouraging me to purchase a new one. But she told me that Kids on Bikes, the organization that sponsors the bike club, wanted to give my son a new-to-him refurbished bicycle in the right size. My son earned a bike by attending all of the bike club meetings, following the rules of the road, and being an enthusiastic participant.
What?!? Give my son a bike? Who does that?!? By showing a strong commitment to bike club, my son actually earned the bike with no strings attached. Amazing!
A New Bike
The next week, we took his too-small bike to school, donating it to Kids on Bikes who agreed to fix it up and give it to a younger child who didn’t have one. It was awesome knowing that his well-loved bike was going to another kiddo who loved to ride as much as him.
My son has been enjoying his new bicycle for the past year and has been involved in his school’s bike club again this school year. It’s a great way to make friends, enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. He is looking forward to participating in the bike club next school year, too.
Kids on Bikes
My son’s bike club is made possible by a local non-profit called Kids on Bikes (KOB). Kids on Bikes was founded in 2005 by a group of community members with a passion for bikes with the mission of inspiring and empowering all kids and families to lead healthy, active and happy lives through biking. They have over 20 programs at schools in our community, and last year, 136 bikes were earned by kids in those programs! To find a site near you, click here.
I chatted with Daniel Byrd, the executive director of KOB, and asked, “Why bikes? There are so many ways to help kids; what makes bikes so special?” He passionately shared with me how learning to ride a bicycle is a rite of passage that most people experience. Many of us remember where we were when we first learned to ride. According to Daniel, KOB wants all kids to “experience the physical thrill of riding a bike.” Also, bikes are legitimate, practical, and simple means of transportation and can mean independence for many. With a bicycle, you can ride to a friend’s house or get to and from school and work.
This organization is passionate about our community and has several exciting upcoming events! KOB is hosting its annual Great Bicycle Carnival on August 9 at El Pomar Youth Bike Park in Fountain Park. There will be strider bike races, a skills park for dirt bikes, a bicycle parade for little riders, and much more! It’s for families and is totally free. It’s going to be a beautiful day to spend with your family and community.
They also run summer bike camps geared towards kids ages 2 through 8th grade. The camps are for all skill levels. And on Sunday afternoons in the summer, they host PopCycle Rides in America the Beautiful Park. These are family-friendly rides to get everyone outside cycling together.
In 2016, KOB opened the Pedal Station which is a community bike center that sells refurbished bikes, bike parts and supplies, and also accepts donations of used bikes for their programs. If you have bikes that you aren’t using, this is the perfect place to donate your bikes, knowing that they are going to kids around our city.