BBP donated over 30 bicycles to children in our community at our Kids’ Bicycle and Safety Hour (Kids’ B.A.S.H.) this past Saturday! For some of these 4 through 11 year olds it’s their first time riding; others are veterans of bike clubs like Hawthorne’s and Whitney’s. Regardless of their experience, each month 30 to 40 kids receive a helmet, locks, and lights or reflectors in addition to their bicycle, and participate in a bike safety talk and obstacle course.
Who receives a bike?
Any child ages 4 through 11 who registers with us ahead of time receives a bicycle! Many families call in to register their kids. Others sign up when they walk in to our shop. About half the kids who participate are referred by elementary school counselors, community school coordinators, or non-profit agencies. Kids referred by the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement agency, make up a large portion of the kids every month. If registration is full for one month, that child will get signed up for next month’s B.A.S.H. BBP does not turn any child away. Our one requirement: that kids attend our bicycle safety talk and participate in our obstacle course.
What happens at a BASH?
Let’s walk through what actually goes down at the B.A.S.H.! The second Saturday of every month kids show up at 9am at the Boise Bicycle Project, often transported by volunteers from the referral agencies, like the International Rescue Committee. They are welcomed by volunteers at the front desk who write their name and assigned bike number on name tags. Then, they head into the parts room to get their helmets fitted. Once a volunteer has made sure that their chin straps fit, the kids enter the shop floor, where the magic happens. A bike runner checks the child’s bike number and fetches their assigned bicycle from the warehouse, and a volunteer mechanic fits the seat to the child’s height and give the bike one last double check. At this point kids are usually grinning cheek to cheek as they walk out the front door with their bike.
Volunteers help put lights on the bikes ahead of time, so all that remains is to give the kids their lock and teach them how to set their combo. As volunteers are doing this outside the front of the shop one person is dedicated to stickering the bikes with BBP’s Kids Bike Sticker. This records the total number of kids bikes BBP has given away. It also signifies that they’ve gotten their bike from us if we run into it at a Mobile Repair or one of our Kids Fix-it evenings at the shop.
Once all the kids are set with their helmets, lights, locks and of course bikes we begin the exodus; surrounded by parents and volunteers kids walk their bikes from BBP to the parking lot across the street and around the corner, where the safety obstacle course is already set up.
We sing “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” with the little ones, and talk about helmets, bright clothing, and sneakers. Then we test the kids on their ABCs, and review the ABC Quick Check, something each and every one of us should do before we ride. “What does A stand for on your bicycle?” “A stands for Air!” This most recent Saturday I also got shouts of “Awesome!” in response to that question. “B” leads to a discussion about brakes and when to brake, and “C” stands for chain. Once we make sure that our bodies and our bikes are ready to ride we talk about what we do when we’re riding, how we talk to people with our voices and cars with our arms.
Then finally the moment all the kids have been waiting for! They get to hop on their bikes and try out their new skills in a couple obstacle courses where they practice riding in a straight line, scanning, signalling, turning, and stopping. Volunteers from the Shifting Gears Program will hold the seats of kids who don’t know how to ride, and help them on their wobbly way around the parking lot and back to the shop. For those kids who are confident on their bikes we’ll end the safety course with a group ride around the block, practicing the turn signals and scanning the kids have learned, and ending at the BBP!
How can you help?
Volunteer! More volunteers are always welcome at our Kids B.A.S.H.es, and no bike mechanic experience is necessary! You can help check in kids, help fit helmets, set locks, decorate kids bikes, or join us on our safety ride! Check the volunteer opportunities page on our website to sign up for September’s Kids B.A.S.H.!
Donate bikes! We can always use more kids bike! We take any size, and refurbish bikes with 16” wheels, 20” wheels, and 24” wheels. Right now we are particularly in need of bikes with 16” wheels and 24” wheels!