UPDATE: The October 29 edition of the Washington Post has an article about the event. Be sure to take a look!
On Friday, October 23, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) partnered with Beacon House, a tutoring and mentoring organization in the Edgewood neighborhood of Washington, D.C., to give free bicycles, locks, helmets and safety instruction to 40 students enrolled in Beacon House programs. The $20,000 bicycle giveaway, which aims to encourage use of newly completed sections of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, was part of RTC's Metropolitan Grants Program, funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), a long-standing advocate for the completion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, provided bicycle safety training for the students who received bikes. RTC, WABA and Beacon House staff assisted the students with helmet fittings and bicycle adjustments prior to a ride along a newly completed section of the trail. Local bicycle shop Oasis Bike Works has committed to monthly check-ups for the next year with students receiving bikes at Beacon House to perform tune-ups and teach the students about bike maintenance.
Beacon House offers educational, cultural, recreational and athletic programs to roughly 400 children and youth, ages 5 to 18, from low-income families, per year. The bicycle giveaway is part of RTC's ongoing commitment to provide amenities, resources and opportunities to Ward 5 residents near the newly constructed Metropolitan Branch Trail.
RTC is committed to expanding the use of rail-trails in urban areas across the nation. Many neighborhoods in major urban areas face the challenges of obesity, congestion and scarcity of open space. In addition to the Metropolitan Grants Program, in 2009 RTC launched its Urban Pathways Initiative, enabling communities to become part of the solution. Rail-trails and urban pathways provide opportunities for healthier living, which in turn effect positive change in neighborhoods where the demand for improved health and community empowerment is greatest.
Interested in the mural in the background of the images on this page? It's D.C.'s largest, and it's right on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Learn more about it. More photos of the event can be found on the Facebook page of event partner Oasis Bike Works.