Running an emerging, tri-county membership-based transportation advocacy organization is a full-time job and I’m thrilled the wonderful SFBC Board is so supportive of my work with the Miami-Dade Park & Recreation Summer Camp Program. I’m having a great time with girls and boys at Tamiami, Gwen Cherry and Goulds Parks, running bicycle handling drills, fitting helmets and learning new ways to promoter safer bicycling every day.
I’ve received your emails, facebook comments and calls, asking about what exactly we do... Each class begins with basic introductions and a discussion on the ‘parts of the bike.’ I don’t know the kids or even how many I will have before I show up and they always have a diversity of experiences with bicycling. At least once a week, we get kids who haven’t even learned how to bicycle yet. You might be surprised, but they get at least as much out of the class as their fellow students.
We learn the basics of the bicycle: what kinds of brakes are on our tester bikes and how they work, what makes a bike ‘fit’ you, the A-B-C Quick Check, etc. Each class watches a 9minute video, which I invite you to watch and critique below. We talk to them about what makes a good driver – of either a car or a bicycle – and the importance of being alert. We ask lots of questions and answer many more.
I have taught/learned with boys and girls, groups as small as 8 and as large as 18 (phew!), and kids from age 7 to 14. Each group is different and I have to be ready to work with all kinds of preconceived notions about bicycling, helmets, riding in the road and… knee pad protocol? Yes-
Volunteering to teach bicycle safety and handling skills is making me a better advocate. Kids aren’t just the future, they are the here and now. Those lucky enough to have a bicycle, ride it in the street already. If they don’t learn how to ride right today, about traffic safety and road rules before they can drive, it will only get harder to reach them as adult motorists. Kids love riding bicycles – even the girls who worry about messing up their hair or the boys nervous about messing up in front of their friends. These short little bike classes, dreamed up as a first step toward a bicycle ambassador program by and for the Miami-Dade Parks Department, are having a positive and immediate impact. While I don’t have the same kids twice, the girls and boys remember me a week later, calling out, “Miss Kathryn, Miss Kathryn! I rode my bicycle on Saturday!”
At Gwen Cherry and Goulds Park, we have Audio/Visual capabilities so we show the Bike Safe/ Bike Smart 9minute video for children. On the whole, we’ve found it to be good at reinforcing our message. What do you think about it?
Kids are like little sponges: If you show them how to ride better and explain to them that they can ride their bikes for their whole lives, they listen and learn fast. I am committed to continuing to volunteer with the education programs even after the Summer Camp season is over. If you would like to support this program – by donating supplies like helmets or youth-size bikes, sidewalk chalk and masking tape (for setting up the ‘street’ course), or time to bring these lessons to more parks, please contact Kevin Kirwin here. We use art supplies to engage them in identifying and visualizing road hazards, masking tape and sidewalk chalk to draw out a little neighborhood to ride around in and bikes (of course) for them to ride and work on. The Miami Children’s Hospital has loaned us a number of kid-sized bikes, though I have had to take a few home to fix parts. My next purchase will probably be quick release seat posts so we can fit the kids better. On that note, Donations are always appreciated! Thank you, fans, friends and members of the South Florida Bike Coalition.