This week, Bike Newport launched an exciting new pilot program that gives a group of Spanish-dominant high school students all they need to bicycle safely to and from school and work.
“Rogers Ciclistas” is a vibrant collaboration between Bike Newport and Rogers High School. The program is funded through generous grant support from Powered by Prince and the Rhode Island Foundation Newport County Fund, and is made possible by the hard work of Bike Newport volunteers and staff who prepared with care the fleet of lovingly restored bicycles.
When three students told Cate Sullivan, English Language Learning (ELL) teacher at Rogers, that they wanted bikes to be able to bike to school and work, her first thought was to call Clare Woodhead, Bike Newport’s Education Director. Together they began a plan that would answer the girls’ wishes and take it farther – to more students who would likewise benefit from the independence and productivity that we know bikes make possible for students.
Fast forward to this week’s launch of “Rogers Ciclistas”! – when 24 students received bicycles, backpacks, locks, lights and reflective vests together with instruction and practice in bicycle maintenance, security, and safe riding skills. All this is happening along with group rides to and from school to help them get acclimated on the roads, routes, and safest behaviors to get them safely and dependably to school and work.
Additionally, the dual language component of the program means that the students, their teachers and Bike Newport’s instructors are all involved in a multilingual experience and expansion of cultural awareness in a positive social environment. The value of this context for recent immigrant students is very high.
“We are so grateful to Bike Newport for providing this important program! Clare and Gail fitted our students to beautiful refurbished bikes, and taught them how to use the safety equipment that came with them. They did a great job practicing safe cycling skills at the Traffic Garden and even have time for fun at the Pump Track! It was amazing to see their confidence on our group ride back to Rogers. Our multilingual learners are extremely grateful to have a new method of transportation for getting to school and work!”
– Cate Sullivan, ELL Teacher, Rogers High School
From the first day, our educators were impressed by the camaraderie and kindness that the participants demonstrated to each other, as fellow students helped each other to fit their helmets, and learn to ride comfortably on their new bikes. At every opportunity, they encouraged and boosted each others’ confidence as they learned to ride together as a group. When they hit the road, they all had an amazing time on their first ride to school.
“Rogers Ciclistas is wonderful for strengthening community connections while improving conditions for bike safety. Biking around the neighborhood, or to a nearby school or park, provides a sense of freedom and adventure and we want to build on that as they move to riding on the streets. The whole community benefits from efforts to enable more people to ride and we want everyone doing that as smartly and safely as possible.“
– Clare Woodhead, Director of Education
With a growing list of 20 more students already interested – we’re busy planning continued sessions! If you’d like to help ensure the growth of this program, we welcome your kind contribution. Thank you for donating here and indicating ‘Rogers Ciclistas’ as your reason for giving. You may also use Venmo to @BikeNewport.
Building the Fleet:
We’re grateful to area residents who kindly donate their high-quality bicycles to Bike Newport, to Bike Newport’s staff and dedicated volunteers who refurbished the fleet of bikes during our Open Garage program. Our educators then outfit each bike with all the accessories: helmets, water bottles, saddle bags, bike tools, tire repair kits, lights, locks, and more.
Bike Safety in Our Schools:
Bike Newport now teaches Bike Safety Education in all three of Newport’s public schools: to all 3rd-graders at Pell Elemetary and all 5th-graders at Thompson Middle School, as well as Rogers Ciclistas. This trio of programs enhances the safety of young riders in our community.
In-school and after-school, local youth are enjoying the brand new and beautiful Newport Traffic Garden, which had its grand opening earlier this month. The site provides an ideal setting to practice safe cycling techniques and the particular dynamics of group riding, all safely separated from traffic, and all available for community use year-round.
When you see our Rogers “Ciclistas”, Thompson “Roll Models”, and all other cyclists on the road, be sure to drive safely and patiently. You can wave to bicyclists to let them know you see them. We all have a role to play in keeping our cyclists safe on our streets, and we’re grateful to all who take the necessary care to safely be on the road together.