The bike trailer all loaded up for a Bike Library orientation.

These past couple weeks have been a jumble of preparation, getting familiar with the Community Partners Bike Library and our course curriculum, scheduling, and starting our first few Learn to Ride classes. A consistent undercurrent for me has been a feeling of exhilaration – of moving myself from place to place on my bike, of really being able to hear and see and smell that places I go – and of sharing that excitement about biking with the women in these classes who are learning to ride.

For our Live It project, Hannah Geil-Neufeld and myself (Essie Schlotterbeck) are co-teaching a series of Learn to Ride a Bike classes for participants in Cycles for Change’s Community Partners Bike Library. The Library loans bikes out to folks for a period of about 6 months during the warm-weather season through various partnering community organizations. Our Learn to Ride classes are geared towards immigrant women and women of color, groups that are traditionally marginalized from the cycling world and many of whom have never learned to ride a bike.

Hannah demonstrated some techniques for balancing to Naomi.

So far, Hannah and I have attended a few Bike Library orientations, where participants receive their bikes, and have held the first two classes in the series of three sessions at Sarah’s, a transitional housing program for women in St. Paul. The second class was especially exciting, as many of the women started working on braking, sharper turns, and signaling, where in the first class they had been working on more basic skills like pedaling. We try to work  with the participants in each class and tailor the activities and exercises to their individual level, so that people at many different levels can work on the skills they need to in the same class.

As a pilot project, part of what we’re doing is assessing the interest in Learn to Ride classes and, if it seems like it is a useful and effective program, take steps to make the Learn to Ride program sustainable in the longer term of the Bike Library. Both Hannah and I will be working at Cycles for Change during the school year through Macalester’s off-campus student employment, and we’re excited to be able to continue our relationships with the organization after the summer as well.

If you’re interested in volunteering at some of our Learn to Ride classes and learning how to teach these skills yourself, please feel free to email either of us at eschlott@macalester.edu or hgeilneu@macalester.edu, or fill out our volunteer interest survey here and we’ll get back to you about volunteer opportunities. We would love your help!

Nue practicing braking during the second class at Sarah’s in St. Paul.


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