Oh, the places they’ll go. When you give a child a bike, and the safety skills to go with it, you give them a lifetime of freedom and adventure. Bike Walk Knoxville has just launched its Kids Love Bikes program, which teaches kids in need bike riding, bike safety and bike maintenance. Through the help of community partners, including DreamBikes, each kid is also given a bike when completing the program.
Kids Love Bikes is benefiting from its first bike drive. From now through April 29, please drop off your gently loved bikes at Bearden Beer Market, 4524 Old Kingston Pike, and get a beer or craft soda for a penny. Youth bikes are especially welcome.
“The more bikes we have, the more kids we can serve,” says Lindsey Kimble, program manager with Bike Walk Knoxville. Biking, she says, “…is a life skill you’ll always have with you. Unfortunately, many children don’t have the opportunity to learn.”
Bike Walk Knoxville received a two-year grant and matched the grant funding to implement this program. It will serve children in need through partnering with other service organizations and elementary schools to identify them, including Boys & Girls Clubs in Vestal and Montgomery Village and in Blount County.
The four-week curriculum involves teaching children skills like starting, stopping, balancing, steering and braking, plus learning the rules of the road. Kimble says kids love exercises like “How slow can you go?” That’s a contest in which the winner rides the slowest while staying upright (testing balance skills). At the end of the program, kids are given a bike and properly fitted with a helmet (donated by the Epilepsy Foundation). The course ends with a ride on a local greenway alongside experienced instructors.
On May 14, instructors from Kids Love Bikes will visit Lonsdale Elementary for a two-hour class on bike safety, with an invitation to a greenway ride for kids and families that coming weekend.
Bike Walk Knoxville is a leanly staffed organization with a lot of moving parts. The agency is responsible for the popular citywide Open Streets programs as well as Safe Routes to School, the Walking School Bus and Morning Fun Walks with various elementary schools. The organization also advocates and lobbies for improved pedestrian and bike access and facilities.
“Kids Love Bikes fits in with Bike Walk Knoxville’s goal to get more people biking and walking,” Kimble says.
If you don’t have a bike for the bike drive, you can always help by making financial contributions, by volunteering or by sponsoring the program at a youth facility, school or church. Info: www.bwknox.org.