2014 Youth Bike Summit Recap

A few weeks ago, Deb, Tina, Steve, Ellie, Colina, along with Bike Works youth and youth alumni Lucky, Miranda, Nick, and Erin, attended the Youth Bike Summit in New York City. The YBS is an annual tradition for Bike Works – we feel it is an important opportunity to share with and learn from scores of similar organizations around the country.

youth bike summit

Ellie had this to say after the trip:

It was incredibly inspiring to share space over the course of the Youth Bike Summit with such a diverse community in regards to age, ethnicity, cities we come from, and range of what motivates each of us to be involved in the “Bicycle Movement”. The theme of this year’s summit was “Use Your Voice”, and youth voice really was prioritized with young people from various bike organizations sitting on panels, giving key note speeches, facilitating visioning sessions, and leading report backs.

During one of the workshops Bike Not Bombs facilitated a skype call between the YBS and a representative at the World Bike Forum taking place simultaneously in Brasil. Attendees of the WBF directed questions to the youth participants of the YBS.  One posed a question in regards to how young people got involved in the bicycle movement, whether it was self-guided or following the direction of adults. A number of the young people in the room responded that while they were introduced to bikes and cycling from the adults around them, their personal interests had really taken their own form, but working together across the age spectrum was crucial as adult often have access to more resources that can help young people achieve their goals. This relationship is really what we strive for at Bike Works, that our young people are guiding us in their interests and we are here really just to connect them with the resources and skills for their own personal and community success.

Our youth representatives from Bike Works also blew it out of the water, each sharing moving and eloquent statements about their continued involvement in the bicycle movement and wanting to give back in response to the immense amount of support they received over their years with Bike Works. Of the four youth representing in New York they are continuing on their own paths now and sharing their knowledge, skills, and passion in the Bike Works retail/repair shop, with Bikes Not Bombs in Boston, Neighborhood Bike Works in Philly, Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle, and soon with a women’s empowerment project in India. We are so honored to have worked with such rad people.

Steve, our shop director came away with the following thoughts:

I was really inspired by the job training program for homeless youth at Full Cycle in Minneapolis. They presented at the summit, and we’ve begin some knowledge sharing with them that can help us as we launch our own job skills training program at Bike Works.

It was also cool to talk with a few other organizations about the possibility of a staff exchange, wherein two youth-focused bike non-profits would swap staff members for up to a five-day work week.  These staff members would likely have slightly different area of experience and expertise, so that each organization could benefit in an area where they’re in particular need of some short-term assistance.

Next year Bike Works will be hosting the Youth Bike Summit in Seattle from February 13-15, 2015. We are thrilled to be the first organization to host the Summit outside of New York. Stay tuned for more information!