New research explores the impact of Earn-a-Bike on health, happiness, and employment for those experiencing homelessness
BikeWalkKC is proud to partner with Hope Faith, a homeless assistance campus located in downtown KCMO. Hope Faith provides urgent essentials like shelter, food, and health assistance, and also offers an array of services to help their clients move beyond homelessness.
One such service is our Earn-a-Bike partnership. In this program, Hope Faith clients receive training on riding in a traffic-heavy downtown area, rules of the road, an introduction to maintenance and cleaning, and bicycle handling skills practice. At the end of the program, successful participants receive the bike they worked on, as well as a helmet, lock, and light set. BikeWalkKC staff also assist with Hope Faith’s onsite bike shop, Hope Cycles.
Earn-a-Bike has been a component of BikeWalkKC’s education programs since its founding, but this particular partnership has proven to have long-lasting impacts for the homeless population. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City undertook a recent study of the program and its impact, and the results of their research were recently published in the Journal of Transport & Health (Volume 18, September 2020, 100904).
Researchers Amanda Grimes (UMKC College of Nursing and BikeWalkKC co-chair) and Michelle Smirnova (UMKC College of Arts & Sciences, Sociology) were interested in how Hope Faith clients ultimately used the bicycle they earned, and how those bikes may have impacted their physical, financial, and emotional independence. Through interviews of 16 of the Earn-a-Bike participants, they uncovered several key benefits of BikeWalkKC’s Earn-a-Bike program and the resulting bicycle. Participants reported:
- increased access to transportation,
- improved physical health,
- the ability to maintain/gain employment, and
- Improved feelings of self-esteem and independence.
“I would say that because, again, [the bike] affords me more opportunity. It expands the areas in which I can look for work and also it gives me … I’m trying to search for words. It gives me that peace of mind. I know that I can get here. I don’t have to be dependent on someone’s generosity to give me a ride to work…It gives you a little independence. You feel better about yourself.”
BikeWalkKC is grateful to Drs. Grimes and Smirnova for undertaking this important research; to Hope Faith for its efforts to ensure that all people have safe and dignified access to housing, services, and opportunities; and to our funders, members, and supporters for making this work possible. We also applaud our hard-working education team for their expertise, commitment to our mission, and can-do spirit. Together, we’re making Kansas City a healthier, happier place!
How can you help?
- Donate a bike: we rely on community bike donations to provide to those in need via our Earn-a-Bike and Bike Club programs. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your donation.
- Support BikeWalkKC: our members, Business Members, and donors provide critical funds for programs like Earn-a-Bike, youth education, and others. 100% of your donation is reinvested into the programs and services that help redefine our streets as places for people.
- Support Hope Faith: donate to provide critical services for individuals and families facing homelessness or housing insecurity.
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