I’m sure most of us remember the first time we rode a bike. I know I’ll never forget riding without training wheels for the very first time down my driveway, my grandfather running alongside me, making sure I didn’t fall off. I remember the feeling of YOU’RE DOING IT! when he let go and I somehow kept moving, all on my own. I also remember the feeling of hitting the ground when I got so excited that I forgot to pedal and tipped over, right onto the pavement. But I got up, brushed the dirt off, and kept riding. And now, decades later, whether I’m bombing down 5th Avenue hoping for all green lights, sprinting up the West Side Highway with friends, or simply riding through Brooklyn to get to work, I still experience that same sense of pure joy I got when I was six. Pure joy just from going to and from work every day? That’s a lot of joy.
Habitat has working been with CYCLE Kids to bring a little bit of bike joy to elementary and middle school kids since 2011 when they launched their Washington Heights program. Thanks to a fleet of donated bikes from Specialized, the school was able to incorporate cycling into their physical education program. 4th and 5th graders, many of whom had never been on bikes before, got the chance not only to ride but also to learn how bikes worked and how to properly fuel their bodies for riding.
This year, the CYCLE Kids program is coming to two new schools, both in Brooklyn. It has also gained a new spokesperson, New York’s own Evelyn Stevens (who just last week won the Merco Cycling Classic in Merced, California). Just a few years ago, Evie traded in her Wall St job for a racing bike, and she hasn’t looked back since. (Fun fact, Evie got started racing in the very same women’s intro clinic that a lot of our awesome local racers did!) She found out that it doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an investment banker when you hop on a bike for the first time; it still feels like flying.
The first of the Brooklyn programs launches this Wednesday at PS 157 in Bed Stuy. Habitat and friends will be there to build the bikes with the kids and to help create a whole new generation of Cycle Kids.
– Emily, Bicycle Habitat Brooklyn