The Bike Más Project: Continuing to Inspire Traverse City Youth Through Bicycles
The Bike Más Project, our adventure-based after school program recently wrapped up its 6th season. We have expanded the program to now serve three elementary schools; Traverse Heights, Eastern and Central Grade School.
Norte! is developing the next generation of active, healthy, and empowered young people in Traverse City. Students are learning as much about themselves as they are about bicycle safety, maintenance and repair, riding skills and techniques, as they put into practice the rules of the road. The program meets once a week for 4 weeks and is for upper elementary students.
Our mantra is to ride Responsibly, Respectfully, and be stellar Representatives of Norte!, their school and community. Expectations include positive attitudes and top notch behavior while out riding. With a wet and sometimes windy fall, our kids represented just that. We like to say “anyone can ride on a sunny day”. No complaints were heard from these kids, they just put their heads down and rode on.
Some of the techniques we learn and practice on our adventures:
- Power starts, with your foot at the 2 o’clock position, so when it’s time to go, you GO.
- Riding in a predictable straight line, single file and on the right side of the road
- Communicating with those around you by calling out car up or back, parked car, pothole, signaling turns and stopping
- Being courteous to other trail users, passing slowly on the left with a ding and wave.
- Where to position ourselves at the intersection if turning right, going straight or turning left
The Bike Más Project riders are learning to ride safely on the streets and non-motorized trails. Norte! stresses that sidewalks are designed for pedestrians. If cyclists use sidewalks, the speed is a walking speed and pedestrians have the right-of-way. Kids are taught to bike smart, that includes being especially aware at intersections, and driveways and alleyways.
Before venturing downtown to see the Michigan DNR fish weir, we practiced in the school parking lot, to ride in a straight line WHILE looking back. Not an easy task, but with practice, everyone improved. This skill is important when riding in traffic and needing to change lanes.
We were now ready to try out the downtown bike lanes, paying close attention to parked cars and keeping our distance from possible doors opening. Adventures also took us to parks with time to play, tours of local businesses like Oryana, TBA Credit Union, and relaxing stops for yummy snacks, like Higher Grounds and GT Pie Company.
The program challenges kids to dig deep, sometimes riding further than they ever have before, to practice, practice, practice and grow. They grew their skills, knowledge, strength and confidence. Look for The Bike Más Project coming to your school soon!