In a new partnership this summer with Hope Faith Ministries, a day center that provides services for homeless and impoverished men, women and children in Kansas City, BikeWalkKC offered a six-week adult Earn-A-Bike course. Lessons included discussions of barriers to riding in downtown KC (specifically in the Paseo West area), a Rules of the Road review, an introduction to maintenance and cleaning, bicycle handling skills practice and a group ride through the River Market and Berkley Riverfront Park areas.
Participants showed great enthusiasm and commitment to the program with 9 out of the 13 initial participants receiving a bicycle. We interviewed each of the guys about what their intended use of their new bike was. “Getting around” as transportation to new jobs, the grocery store and other activities was the primary response. All but one participant do not have a vehicle and rely solely on foot — and now their new bike! — for getting around.
We also asked each participant what they felt was the biggest barrier to riding a bike in KC. Traffic was the number one challenge they mentioned that affects their level of comfort when commuting in the Kansas City area.
They offered words of advice for others wanting to commute and ride their bikes: always use hand signals, scan behind you for motorists and take a bicycling safety class such as the courses offered at BikeWalkKC.
We anticipate that this is the first of many classes to be offered through our partnership with Hope Faith Ministries. Participants of the first Earn-a-Bike cohort already have ideas of developing a mentorship program to teach others maintenance skills, building their own bicycle racks, and even setting up a pop-up bike repair shop at the HFM facility. BikeWalkKC is encouraged by the level of commitment this EAB group had to active transportation and making KC a safer place to ride a bike.
By completing the course, those involved also took an important step in fulfilling Hope Faith Ministries mission of empowering them to go from a dependent individual to an independent one who is engaged in the community. It was easy to witness the growing fellowship, responsibility and investment the participants had towards earning a bike. We look forward to seeing the Hope Faith Ministries interns out riding!
Building a community of care for active living
The partnership between BikeWalkKC and Hope Faith Ministries doesn’t stop with bikes. HFM is also a core partner in Sidewalks KC, a collaboration working on public policy changes to address KCMO’s $1 billion sidewalk backlog and ensure everyone has a safe and comfortable place to walk for transportation, recreation, and physical fitness.
With the support of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City we are building a community of care for active living that connects new partners and stakeholders in multiple efforts to improve the health and quality of life of KC residents.