Kids on Bikes stands on a simple mission statement: inspire and empower all kids to lead healthy, active, and happy lives through bicycling. In order to facilitate this goal, the folks at Kids on Bikes focus on three main priorities: access to bikes, opportunities to ride, and bicycling education. The Executive Director of the non-profit, Daniel Byrd, found his passion for helping others, specifically children, through his experiences as a social worker. At the time, he primarily helped the youth population of Colorado Springs transition out of homelessness. He, along with the rest of his staff, is an avid cyclist, so the combination of his two great passions seemed natural.
Tackling their first priority, access to bikes, was quite challenging because the organization primarily works with neighborhoods where children do not have bikes of their own. Program efforts are focused on areas where over 50% of the student population qualify for free and reduced lunch. In order to help children gain ongoing access to bikes, Kids on Bikes developed Bike Libraries. These “libraries” are simply repurposed shipping containers full of bikes, tools, spare parts, and helmets. Local community partners utilize Bike Libraries to suit their community’s specific needs. This offers children the chance to earn their own bike and provides year-round access to bicycles and equipment. Their website, www.kidsonbikes.net, shows the location of each Bike Library, as well as swaths of other helpful information.
In May of 2016, Kids on Bikes opened a community bike center and social enterprise, the Pedal Station. The Pedal Station carries an assortment of used bikes for any budget—all of the proceeds go back into youth programs. People can donate bicycles and bicycling related items, volunteer, and access general bike service and repair. In fact, the Pedal Station has accumulated over 8,000 hours of volunteering time and donated over 880 bikes to community partners.
Kids on Bikes’ second priority of providing opportunities to ride has proved difficult as of late. However, they were able to successfully run summer bike camps, programs, and fall clinics last year and already have registration open for 2021. More information at www.kidsonbikes.net/camps
The non-profit’s final priority is empowering children through education. Kids on Bikes has found that over 70% of the children in the neighborhoods they serve do not own a helmet. They aim to change the attitude towards safety by providing both education and helmets to local youth. To help spread the word, the staff travels to local schools and puts on a 20-30 minute presentation on how to ride safely. This includes how to safely cross the street, how to ride with a group, the proper clothing to wear, and the importance of a helmet.
Kids on Bikes achieves its seemingly simple, although decidedly difficult goal through the help of the community and the importance of their mission. Byrd states, “Our perspective on childhood development drives our mission and the role of the bicycle as it can remain a positive, simple vehicle that they can escape on. It also builds healthy habits at a young age and can be life changing when given the proper education and training.” Ultimately, it is the passion for change and community betterment that drives Kids on Bikes and lucky for the Springs, they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
— This branded content advertisement was paid for by Kids on Bikes.