Ed Ewing is the Director of Cascade Bicycle Club’s Major Taylor Project (or, as the students call it, “Bike Club”). Bike Club aims to bring safe cycling and bike mechanic skills to youth in low-income communities in King County.
Ewing recently spoke with Anna Fahey at Sightline about the young people he works with and what barriers to cycling they face.
AF: So, how many kids in King County have their own bikes now because of this program?
EE: One hundred!
AF: And growing all the time! What do you see as the lasting impacts, not just for those individual kids, but for the community and the area as a whole?
EE: I see a host of lasting impacts for the kids. The Major Taylor Project is more than bikes, it’s about where the bike can take you. It’s about the new experiences they have because of the bike. For several of these students, the bike is allowing them to explore their world for the first time. They’re exploring and learning new things about their community. They become resourceful in leaning how the bike can be used for transportation, how it connects with Light Rail, with Metro, and how to read a map of popular bike routes. This helps them to become empowered which leads to self-esteem and confidence.
Several students have recognized the differences in their community compared to other neighborhoods, perhaps more affluent. They’ve noticed how some communities have grocery stores instead of corner stores selling chips, candy, and various unhealthy items. They notice how some communities have bike lanes and theirs do not. They notice the quality and contents of the streets, some smooth, others filled with potholes and glass. They notice some communities have libraries and others do not. These observations turned into questions and action. They’ve started asking questions about diversity, access to healthy food, fitness, and making their communities more bike friendly.
Next steps are to pair students with mentors and members of their community and put their ideas into action. This process will hopefully bring attention and change to their communities.