Detroit knows what time it is. We love this great story at Mode Shift (right) about the Earn-a-Bike program Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is funding in Detroit's Osborn community. The reporter, Achille Bianchi, makes good note of the fact that programs like this one are about more than just bikes--they are "teaching youth about the benefits of place, transportation alternatives and a sense of pride in a community."
Funded by RTC's Metropolitan Grants Program - a partnership with The Coca Cola Foundation - and run by Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance and their partners in Detroit, the four-week Earn-a-Bike program has the group of boys and girls ages 10 to 14 not only learning how repair a bike but also undertaking a number of community service projects, including cleaning up the nearby Milbank Greenway.
Through the Metropolitan Grants Programs, RTC has supported Earn-a-Bike programs around the country, an important part of our recent focus on urban areas as the role of biking and walking in solving the nation's pressing health, environmental, economic and social issues becomes increasingly evident.
In Michigan, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey and Maryland, RTC-supported Earn-a-Bike programs have targeted neighborhoods where kids often have few transportation options, where obesity is a problem, where incomes are low--places where a simple machine with two wheels can make an enormous difference to young students seeking a vehicle to freedom, to exercise, and to mobility.
Next up: Houston's Third Ward neighborhood, where our friends at Workshop Houston are using an RTC grant to expand their existing bike repair shop so they can serve more kids in their popular summer Earn-a-Bike program.
Roll on, young 'uns.