The First Annual Youth Bike Summit
Pasqualina and organizer Helen Ho send the following report from the proceedings:
More than 200 participants from 14 states and two countries came to New York this past weekend to swap ideas, learn bicycle advocacy best practices and build nationwide momentum in the country’s first-ever Youth Bike Summit, sponsored by Recycle-A-Bicycle. The youth spent three days learning everything from map-making techniques to political organizing strategies, participating in roller races and developing an action plan to advance biking in NYC and places beyond.
To kick things off, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan acknowledged the event’s female leaders by evoking Susan B. Anthony’s 1896 quote, "I think the bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world." She then introduced Kimberly White, an 18 year old intern at Recycle-A-Bicycle as the Summit’s keynote speaker.
Kimberly related her personal transformation from a 16-year-old couch potato watching 36 hours of television a week, whose 4-year-old sister had superior bike handling skills, to a comfortable cyclist who had built her very own bicycle. This led to an opportunity to attend the 2010 National Bike Summit, where Kimberly and other NYC delegates asked legislators to make biking and walking safer for kids. She now seeks to empower other youth by urging legislators to keep streets safe for all young people in New York City.
In one workshop, Dr. Edward Fishkin, the director of medical services at Woodhull Hospital, spoke about his creation of a Kids Ride Club 15 years ago. From spring through fall, Dr. Fishkin leads weekly rides ford kids ages 7-19 with fun destinations and healthy lunches. Their motto is “Have fun and ride safe.” Fishkin calculated that in the 2010 season the Kids Ride Club burned a collective total of 1.5 million calories on the rides.
On day three of the conference, all of the participants formulated a plan based on what they'd learned during the weekend on topics such as education and advocacy campaigns, infrastructure designs, and diversity-boosting strategies. They vowed to band together to research the issues, publicize their findings, and create change. Clearly, this is a young group with a lot of energy. Legislators and decision-makers, watch out!
To follow the progress of the youth bike advocacy movement, go to www.recycleabicycle.org, and for more information on how to get involved contact Pasqualina Azzarello, Executive Director of Recycle-A-Bicycle, at director[at]recycleabicycle[dot]org.
Pasqualina Azzarello: [00:01] We are here today for the first Youth Bike Summit, which I imagine to be the first of many. It has been a really amazing experience to see all these people, more than 200 people, coming in from all over this country to share in a conversation about what’s important to us in terms of riding bikes and participating in our communities and exchanging information. We had a keynote introduction this morning by Janette Sadik-Khan and one of our young leaders, Kimberly White.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [00:34] I think it’s a great time and a great place to hold the summit. We’ve done a lot to improve cycling in the City of New York. We’ve put down over 200 miles of on street bike lanes, 15 miles of protected lanes and thousands of bike racks and parking facilities. And, you know, the youth that’s here today is the future of New York City, and they have a big stake in the game in terms of wanting to see that their streets are as safe as they can possibly be.
Kimberly White: [00:59] Youth actually do care about pressing issues, contrary to what most people believe that this generation is completely benighted which prove itself to be a fallacy because we have a lot of youth here today who are very much engaged in cycling and sustainability and community work.
Pasqualina Azzarello: [01:17] We’ve also had a whole day filled with workshops. So there are different presenters, different organisations, different young people, different community advocates who are working together to share information, to tell their stories.
Michael Cheng: [01:31] This workshop today was amazing. I didn’t know that there was so many people around the nation and around our community who are involved in so many projects. I learned a lot about people who are starting bicycle programmes, teaching people how to bike, you know, getting over all the obstacles and just making bicycling a central part of transportation.
Rommel Bishop: [01:51] I definitely feel that the summit is the place where everybody can come together and talk about what they like to do.
Jelani Hamlett: [01:57] We bring kids in and teach them not only bike mechanics where they can make their own bike and learn the mechanics, but also about environmental advocacy so they can know that while they’re making this bike they’re also helping the environment.
[02:11] Like if there’s this much young people talking about it then
it’s an issue that’s going to be around for as long as those young
people are around.