BOSTON – Wednesday, July 19, 2023 – Today Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston Parks and Recreation, Boston Centers for Youth & Families, and the Office of Early Childhood announced investments in child bikes and bike instruction through “Connect, Learn, Explore: Boston’s Commitment to Youth.” The City, in partnership with Highland Street Foundation and other local organizations, will be offering free bike instruction at 15 sites across the City for ages four to 13. Connect, Learn, Explore reaffirms Mayor Wu’s commitment to making Boston the best City in the country to raise a family by ensuring all of Boston’s children learn how to ride a bike, swim, and connect with their communities through sports, the arts, and gardening.
“Biking is more than just a fun way to stay active, it’s a great way to get around and a crucial life skill – one that all of our young people deserve the opportunity to develop,” said Mayor Michelle Wu.
“This is an exciting initiative for our children and youth,” said Council President Ed Flynn. “Learning to ride a bike, much like learning how to swim, is an important skill that allows our young people to get active, have fun, and explore new places with families and peers in the City. I encourage our youth to take advantage of this program to learn about the basics of balance, bike safety, and bike rules.”
Riding a bike provides kids with the freedom to explore their neighborhoods, develop physically, and to have fun. Through bike education programs at Boston parks, BCYF centers, and community partners, all of Bostons’ kids will learn to ride a bike safely by third grade.
This summer, biking is being offered in three Boston Parks to approximately 300 youth at Almont Park, East Boston Stadium, and White Stadium as a part of the Parks and Recreation Summer Sports Centers. In each of the sports centers, Boston youth hired through the Success Link Summer Jobs Program have been trained by Boston Bikes (BTD’s bicycle education program) personnel to teach young children bicycle safety and mechanics in addition to the basics of riding. South Boston Neighborhood House is providing a fourth park site at Moakley Park, offering bicycling instruction to children enrolled in their childcare and summer programs. Next year, the City will expand the Parks programming to include all five Summer Sports Centers serving nearly 500 kids annually across all Boston neighborhoods.
“We are pleased to join in this initiative adding bicycle riding and safety lessons to the other free recreational activities we provide for Boston’s youth at our summer sports camps,” said Boston Parks Commissioner Ryan Woods. “Our parks and playgrounds open up a world of nature and healthy outdoor exercise to young people; bicycle riding will add another dimension of freedom and wonder with exciting new opportunities to explore our parks and city.”
“We are grateful to the many partners and our Mayor who made it possible to offer lessons and provide bikes to youth at three of our community centers this summer,” said Marta E. Rivera, Commissioner of Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF). “The ability to ride a bike provides a lifetime of independence and access that we look forward to introducing to our city’s youth.”
The City is able to serve an additional eleven early childhood sites by partnering with Highland Street Foundation’s Let’s Get Rolling Initiative. Through their generous donation, Highland Street provided each of the eleven sites with new bikes through REI Co-op, instruction with Bikes Not Bombs, and site coordination through Neighborhood Villages. Together the sites will serve several hundred young children during the summer and the school year.
A list of sites offering bike instruction can be found here.
“Highland Street Foundation is excited to partner with the City of Boston to provide bikes and instruction to several of our community partners,” said Highland Street Foundation Executive Director Blake Jordan. “Every child should have the opportunity to experience the joy that riding a bike provides and if there are barriers to that, it is our role as a community to lift them.”
“We are so excited to support the City’s summer bike riding program for Boston’s youngest residents to encourage them to explore and connect with their vibrant communities,” said Devin Cole, Senior Director of Program Operations at Neighborhood Villages. “Programs like this are critical to building infrastructure in early childhood education and providing children with opportunities to grow and learn at the most developmentally significant time in their lives. We’re proud to be a part of this program and thank Mayor Wu for her ongoing commitment to Boston’s children and families.”
Additionally, community partners Boston Children’s Hospital and Project KidSafe provided helmets through their injury prevention programs for all kids who are participating at the 15 sites citywide.
“No biking program would be complete without helmets to ensure that our youngest children are biking safely,” said Kristin McSwain, Director of the Office of Early Childhood. “We greatly appreciate Children’s Hospital and Project KidSafe who donated over 300 bike helmets to protect our littlest learners as they explore new frontiers and take on new challenges.”
Today’s announcement builds on the goals of Mayor Wu’s Connect, Learn, Explore initiative. Earlier this month, Mayor Wu announced Swim Safe, offering free swim lessons to kids ages 3-12 at pools across the City, free life jackets for youth that are swimming with their families in open water locations, and incentives and free training for lifeguards to keep our city pools safe throughout the year.