Cycling provides a matchless sense of freedom and joy, but bicycles also have the power to transform lives here in our own backyards and across the world. This holiday season, please consider taking action with a gift to these three cycling-related charities. They make a difference every day by introducing children to healthier lifestyles through bicycling, fighting for safer streets for New York City cyclists and pedestrians, and helping girls in Africa to achieve educations for a brighter future. I support them, and I hope you’ll join me!
To spend a morning at a bike build to launch a new CYCLE Kids program, as I was invited to do recently at a public school in the Bronx (right), is to connect directly with the way bicycles bring smiles to children’s faces. CYCLE Kids teaches children to ride bicycles and in the process helps them develop skills to live a more active and healthy lifestyle — breaking cycles of inactivity, poor nutrition habits, social isolation and low self-esteem. CYCLE Kids helps achieve all this by bringing bikes and an accompanying 2-year curriculum to fourth and fifth graders in public schools.
Fact: CYCLE Kids participants achieve a 52 percent improvement in physical activity when they experience the fun and healthy activity of cycling.
Each of us has the power to be a part of a solution, as affirmed when a thousand of cyclists (above), led by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, ralled on Fifth Avenue in September to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio accelerate Vision Zero, the plan to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on New York City Streets.
As cyclists and pedestrians, safe streets matter to us, and the collective voice for crucial action to win more bike lanes, reduce speed limits, install life-saving speeding cameras near schools and much more is Transportation Alternatives. With a vast network of active supporters and activist committees throughout the boroughs, T.A. seeks to reclaim the streets from the automobile and to promote cycling, walking and public transit as the best transportation alternatives.
Fact: Last year New Yorkers spoke up 57,300 times against dangerous streets and reckless driving, helping to watchdog decision-makers and advance the Vision Zero agenda.
Donate: transalt.org (Don’t forget that a T.A. membership makes a thoughtful gift, and comes with benefits and discounts, too.)
World Bicycle Relief:
Over the past 10 years, World Bicycle Relief distributed almost 290,000 bicycles to people in need, primarily in Sub-Sahara Africa. Sturdy, purpose-built Buffalo Bicycles, as they are know, help extend the reach of health care providers, support economic development for famers and entrepreneurs, and broaden educational opportunities, notably for girls (video above).
The latter too often struggle to stay in school based on household chores that disproportionately fall on their shoulders. They face long and sometimes dangerous travels to school and arrive exhausted. WBR studies show that bicycles can change the course of these girls’ lives, helping them to achieve an education, postpone marriage and child-bearing and improve their prospects for a more positive future.
Fact: Students with Buffalo Bicycles improve attendance 28 percent and performance 59 percent.
Photos: CYCLE Kids, World Bicycle Relief, velojoy