For the past three or four years, I’ve volunteered with Summer on the Hudson in West Harlem Piers Park at the “Learn to Ride” event. Learn to Ride is an amazing program held by NYC Parks Department along with Bike New York. The program uses the “balance method” to teach children how to ride bikes.
One of the cool things about the Summer on the Hudson Learn to Ride is the partnership with Bike and Roll, the bike rental company, which lends bikes to the event so that children without bikes can have the opportunity to learn to ride before their families invest in a bike. The West Harlem location is the only location in the city that has this partnership – in all other locations, children must show up with their own wheels.
On Saturday, almost 40 children came through to try to learn to ride. The day was split into two shifts, with children signing up for an 11 am to 1 pm slot, or 1 to 4 pm. We had some students come through for just a short amount of time, and others who stayed hours, determined to get it. A few of my teammates from Empire Tri Club volunteered to teach the children, along with some volunteers through New York Cares. Our volunteers were just as determined as the children, working with them patiently the whole time they were there.
There were some successful students, going from no pedals and balancing to pedaling around the area in circles. One even went from being terrified when she got there to actually leaving on her bike, riding down the Westside bike path! There were also some who didn’t quite make it to pedals, but were very interested in everything else going on around them. Not every kid gets it right away (or even wants to get it), but for the most part they all seemed to have a good time trying.
The parents and children were very appreciative of our help, and the Parks staff was grateful for the volunteers. Each year this event is in such high demand that often it is difficult to give every kid the personal attention needed to succeed. With the help of Empire, the event was well-staffed and allowed every kid who showed up a chance to try to learn to ride
Thanks to Karmen, George, Susannah & Nate, Allison, and Carly for your help!