Just in time for Summer, BikeVentura has been involved in programs that have taught over 1,000 kids in Ventura County how to ride safely, and for some how to ride for the first time.
Several years ago, BikeVentura, then known as VCCOOL, applied with the City of Ventura for a grant to teach kids bike safety. It was awarded, and through the hard work of city staff, a program to teach youth bike education in public school was formed. Thanks to another grant from the Channel Islands Bike Club (CIBike), the city was able to purchase a fleet of bikes and helmets, so that kids could learn in PE class. Typically bike education in schools may have consisted of a one-hour assembly where police officers touted wearing a helmet. But this year, using that fleet, over 900 students were given a week of on-bike training, including a ride around the neighborhood to put what they learned into practice. PE teachers were overjoyed that their students were learning a skill they would use their whole lives, and the students’ comments were just heartwarming.
CiBike also awarded BikeVentura a $10,000 grant to teach youth bike safety through a variety of programs, like bike rodeos, after school programs, and summer camps. We’ve distributed new helmets to over 135 youth around the county, as well as giving bikes to youth in disadvantaged communities. Thanks to a grant from Kaiser Permanente, we’ve continued our HUB club program at sites around the city, teaching kids not only bike safety but educating them around the issues that confront those who choose not to drive, like street design and mobility equity. A few of those kids went to city hall to ask Ventura City Council to keep funding bike projects. We had fun, too, on a trip to Lake Cachuma to go mountain biking.
It’s so much fun working with kids and teaching them to ride safely, but it’s something incredible to teach a young person to ride a bike for the first time. Because of the 6th grade bike education and bike rodeos, we’ve taught over 70 kids to ride a bike. Even in the 6th grade, we see youth that haven’t learned for a variety of reasons: they don’t have access to a bike, their parents don’t have time, or they’re just too nervous. One of our rodeos was with Kids & Families together, and organization working with foster and kinship care youth. That rodeo came about because a grandparent was physically unable to teach their grandchild how to ride, and other caregivers couldn’t find the time. All in all that day we taught 11 kids to ride a bike. We’ve taught deaf and hard of hearing youth, children with autism, and kids with other learning disabilities to ride too.
This Summer, we’ll be hosting two bike summer camps, and hopefully doing some riding of our own! If you are interested in getting involve in teaching youth bike safety, please contact us at email@example.com