Earn a Bike 3.0 @ Great Western Academy

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With generous funding from the Coca Cola Foundation through the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Ohio regional office, this spring we're partnering with Imagine Schools Great Western Academy to deliver our third round of our Earn a Bike programming to 20 youth. During the program, kids will participate in 8 hours of mechanical education and 8 hours of safe cycling education, plus complete a bicycle-related community service project. If they complete the program, they'll take home a new bike, plus a helmet, lock and other accessories.

Final report from 2014:

Yay Bikes! and Franklinton Cycle Works partnered with Gladden Community House on the city’s West Side to offer their youth a 2-week Earn a Bike program. During the program’s first week, participants learned basic bicycle mechanics and maintenance over 8 hours at Franklinton Cycle Works; in the second week they rode for 8 hours with Yay Bikes! to learn trail and road safety. On the final day of the program they shared what they’d learned with their peers by staffing a bike rodeo at Avondale Middle School. Ten children aged 8–14 began the program and 9 (3 girls and 6 boys) completed it to earn their bicycles and accessories. 

Week 1: Bicycle Mechanics

The mechanical portion of the program was designed to empower students to maintain their own bicycles and handle basic fixes, and to help them effectively communicate more complicated issues to bike mechanics as necessary. On the program’s first day, students learned how wheels and tires work, and the appropriate vocabulary for each component. They also had hands-on experience changing both a front and rear tire and patching an inner tube. The second day featured a discussion and demonstration of a bicycle’s braking system, with hands-on experience adjusting brakes. On the third day, the group learned about a bicycle’s drivetrain and components, then evaluated and cleaned chains and adjusted derailleurs. On the final day, students did a thorough safety check of their own new bicycle.

Week 2: Cycling Safety

The safety education portion of the program was designed to empower students to access key local destinations using trails and roads by riding their bicycles responsibly, in visible and predictable fashion. The first two days were spent fitting the kids for helmets (and letting them decorate them with stickers — a huge success), riding low-traffic neighborhood roads to let the kids show off where they lived and reinforcing appropriate bicycling and group riding behavior. A spill by one of the kids even allowed for a teachable moment about the importance of wearing a helmet! As their confidence levels increased and behavior stabilized, instructors led the kids to nearby destinations of interest — including COSI, the Audubon Center and Whittier Peninsula, Dodge Park, Bicentennial Park, Franklinton Community Gardens and Franklinton Library — where they experienced guided tours, summer fun and service opportunities. Each kid had the opportunity to lead the group, with an instructor’s support. By the end of the week, kids were consistently maintaining a straight line, signaling to turn and checking behind them to merge.

Grand Finale: Bike Olympics

The service component of the program was designed to provide students an outlet for sharing what they learned with peers and giving back to the community in a bicycle-specific way. For their service day, students hosted a “Bike Olympics” for fellow neighborhood kids at Avondale Middle School. They recruited kids to come; set up activities, including several races and relays; and manned a bike repair stand. Everyone had a great time!