In the NYC by Bike Minimester course, students spent the week exploring the world of bicycling. We learned about everything from urban bike safety skills to hands-on bike repair, and, of course, participated in some actual biking.
On the first two afternoons, 7th and 8th graders packed into Recycle a Bicycle in Long Island City. This bike shop is dedicated to community and educational programs. Here they learned the ever-important skill of fixing a flat tire, as well as how to adjust brakes, how to replace a bike chain, how to grease bearings and how to remove rust from bike parts. The students quickly became bike mechanics on the fly, tending to donated bikes that needed fixing up for a bike swap event the following weekend. Over the course of two days, I heard numerous students exclaim that they felt like real mechanics!
Another two days were devoted to working with Bike New York, an organization whose vision is "to increase ridership, to empower youth to lead healthy, productive lives, to remove barriers to cycling and to advocate for and expand services to reach more New Yorkers." On Wednesday, a team member came to Avenues to discuss safety strategies for biking in the unique environment of New York City, followed by an engaging game of bike-safety Jeopardy. Afterwards, we fit in a short bike ride around the southern loop in Central Park, putting our newly learned skills to use.
Then on Thursday we travelled to Bike New York's location on the Lower East Side next to the FDR Drive bike path. Here, students reviewed proper hand signals and braking techniques as well as how to scan for other bicyclists. We ended the afternoon with a bike ride along the waterfront down to South Street Seaport.
Unfortunately, our big ride on Friday was rained out, but students were then able to spend the afternoon exploring presentations from other Minimester courses.
Overall, it was a great week to get our wheels in motion! Students' end-of-course feedback ranged from, "I enjoyed taking apart and putting back together bikes," to, "I learned so much more about bikes than I ever thought I would."