Bicycle Education Programs Past, Present and Future, 2010-2016

Here is a great list of bicycle education programs that have been happening around Ulster County. Many of these programs are managed by the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County. 

Past and Continuing Programs:

Bike It! 2010-

Initially a 6-session program, now 8, Bike It! is targeted at 10-14 year olds and operates on Saturday mornings, 9-12. Spring and Fall sessions are offered. Curriculum includes helmet and bike fit, rules of the road, bike handling skills, fixing a flat, bike maintenance and group rides. The program has had 8 to 19 participants. Cost is $35-50, scholarships, helmets and bikes available. Staffing is all volunteer, but program fees cover supplies and snacks.

Bike To Work Day 2012-

To celebrate bike month, a breakfast table has been set up, first at the YMCA but in the past couple of years at Academy Green Park. Kristen initiated the Bike Commuter Challenge online in 2015, I think. Attendance at the table has been low – we see riders passing by and not stopping! For 2016, I am thinking of switching the event to “Bike From Work” happy hour event at Keegan’s.

Bike To School Events 2012-2015

These were begun in conjunction with the National Safe Routes To Schools’ “Bike, Walk and Roll to School Day” and the Mid-Hudson Health and Safety Institute. Events included some rides to school and some safety programs at schools. Focus on these events has fallen by the wayside in the last year or so.

Hodge Afterschool Bike Club 2013-

A weekly program that follows the Bike It! curriculum in a shorter timeframe and is targeted at the disadvantaged children in Midtown who attend the Hodge afterschool program. Initially all-volunteer, we have secured funding since the fall of 2014. Funders have included the Community Development Block Grant, the Helen’s Hope Foundation, the Woodstock Land Conservancy and the New York Bicycle Coalition. Program registration averages 20 kids. No charge.

Lend-A-Wheel Bike Donation Program 2014-

Bikes are accepted at the Y and refurbished (in house or through the Bike Brothers bicycle shop), then put back into service through the Family of Woodstock’s social service network, YMCA programs, or individual referrals. Since the program began in May, 2014, 79 bicycles have been donated and reused.

YMCA Bike Fest 2014-

The first bike fest was held in May, 2014 and featured a bike rodeo, repair station, donation station and a community ride. This format continued in 2015 and this year we are hoping to expand the offerings and improve attendance. Support from ShopRite stores, made possible by the assistance of the New York Bicycle Coalition, will hopefully help significantly.

Bike Repair Workshop 2013

Based on requests from YMCA members, a two-hour session was held, with 6 attendees. Questions and answers on lubrication, bike sizing and brake adjustment were followed by hands-on tire changing and inner tube patching. No charge.

Bailey Bike Club 2016-

New for 2016, this weekly program will follow the Bike It! curriculum in a shorter timeframe and is targeted at the students who attend J. Watson Bailey Middle School. The school principal has identified two faculty members who wish to be involved. Funding has been secured through a grant from the Helen’s Hope Foundation. Program registration is unknown, but we are hoping for 10-15. No charge.

City of Kingston Parks and Recreation Summer Camps 2014-2015

The City obtained 13 bikes and a trailer through Cornell Cooperative Extension and with assistance from the Mid-Hudson Safety Institute and the Y, were able to train camp counselors in bike ed and provide hands-on instruction at several of the City’s summer programs that take place in City parks. It is unknown if this will continue in 2016.

Summer Hodge Bike Week 2015-

This program was an intense 5-day session that provided daily bicycle educations plus rides of 8 to 12 miles. The program attracted some of the Hodge afterschool bike club members, as well as other children who participate in the Hodge summer program. Funding was through a grant from the Helen’s Hope Foundation. 16 youth registered and we had 4 on a waiting list. Funding is in place for a 2016 program. No charge.

Camp Seewackamano Mountain Bike Camp 2014, 2016

In 2014 a YMCA staff member, Ryan Fawley, conducted two, week-long programs at the Y’s day camp in Shokan, Camp Seewackamano. Ryan has a professional mountain bike racing license and is a USA Cycling-certified coach. He left the Y in late 2014, and the program was not continued in the 2015 camp season. For 2016, Tom will be leading the program, with two separate weeks of MTB camp. Camp Seewackamano fees will apply, but camperships are available.

Summer YMCA Bike It! Week 2016

New this year, the program is modelled on the Hodge summer bike week. It will provide daily bicycle educations plus rides of 8 to 12 miles. We hope the program will attract participants from the Saturday Bike It! program. Currently, this will be an all volunteer effort, though program fees will cover supplies, t-shirts and snacks. Registration fees have not been established but will be in the $150-$250 range, with scholarships, helmets and bikes available for anyone with financial limitations. Our goal is for 12-16 participants.

Traffic Skills 101 2016

This will be the first adult bike education program offered by the YMCA/Bike Friendly Kingston. The class uses the League of American Bicyclists curriculum and must be taught by a League Certified Instructor (LCI). Tom has this qualification and will be assisted by another LCA. The course features 9 hours of instruction, four in the classroom and the rest on bikes. Successful completion will qualify participants to participate in higher level League certifications, including the LCI course. Schedule for three Wednesdays in May, registration fees have not been set, but will be based on funding from the New York Bicycle Coalition to keep fees affordable.

Bailey PE Classes 2012

Over the course of two weeks, Tom and volunteers from Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Mid-Hudson Safety Institute provided bike ed to all the students in the 7th grade at J. Watson Bailey Middle School. This program was only somewhat successful as it took place in the gym, was of very limited duration, and could not be replicated due to volunteer schedule constraints.

High School Bike Leaders 2012-2013

In an effort to develop more bike educators, as well as to attract high school students, Tom and Kristen worked with PE instructors at Kingston High School to create a group that would receive training and then as part of their community service requirement, would lead bike ed programs at elementary and middle schools (to solve the personnel issue at the Bailey program above). The project envisaged two sessions, with the first an introduction/orientation, and the second a skills training. We were unsuccessful as we could not get students to attend the second session.

Assorted Bike Rodeos, Info Tables, Helmet Fitting/Giveaways 2012-

The Y and partners have participated in a wide range of events over the years. These include the Kingston Farmer’s market, the Tour De Kingston, Ride for Cancer Care (Gruner ride), O+ Festival, Hurley Nursery School, Ulster County Fair, Midtown Make a Difference Day, Forsyth Nature Center Junior Naturalist program and Fall Festival, Edson Elementary Safety Fair, etc.

The future:

We have lots of ideas, and the needs are great! Here are a few:

  • Build-A-Bike for underserved youth: participants would learn bike mechanics as they rebuild a donated bike, and at the completion of the program it would become theirs to keep.

  • School-based bike ed classes that would include on-bike activities and be taught as part of the PE curriculum and would be during the regular school day.

  • More “train the trainer” classes to increase the number of competent and qualified bike ed instructors.

  • A community bike shop: In other parts of the country, these operate as formal class rooms for bike repair classes, build-a-bike programs, group rides, space and tools for use, parts exchange and bike sales. Some are cooperatives, with a membership requirement; others are nonprofits that are supported by grants and income from classes, etc.