Annual Bike Fest events in North Minneapolis encourage children and their families to learn more about biking and biking safely. One organizer shares how the events come together and what she hopes the community will take away from them.
Name: Janet Marvin
Occupation: Current: Program Director for Herb Brooks Foundation; Past: Folwell Center for Urban Initiatives – City Kids
You’re an advocate for getting more kids in North Minneapolis to bike. Why is this important to you?
Bicycling is a great way to stay healthy and enjoy the outdoors. Minneapolis has great bike trails. Bikes provide transportation for youth to get to destinations like church, school, parks and local stores.
The Folwell Center for Urban Initiatives (FCUI) created Bike Fest as part of its City Kids initiative; that program was then adopted by the Webber-Camden Neighborhood as a primary event in 2010 and 2011. The Pohlad Family Foundation supported the 2011 Bike Fests and delivered bike programming in six events across the northside from May to August. These events served more than 1,000 people, primarily youth, and included bike giveaways, helmet safety with 1,000 helmets donated by the American Academy of Neurology, bike maintenance and repair.
What was your role in the summer of 2011 Bike Fests?
My role was to coordinate the events; bringing together volunteer mechanics at the host site, organizing activities and volunteers.
The Bike Fest event was started seven years ago through the Folwell Neighborhood Association (FNA) office. North Minneapolis did not have a bike shop or a place where families could take bikes and get basic repairs done. We thought it would be a great idea if together with FNA, PAL (Police Activities League) and the Minneapolis Parks, we could offer a solution to some of the bike issues. Since then, it has grown from doing events at three sites to doing six sites this past summer. This past summer, The American Academy of Neurology donated 1,000 helmets to be fitted and given away. The Bike/Walk Ambassador organization came in and set up the safety course at the events. The Pohlad Family Foundation helped with buying new supplies to fix the bikes and also provided hot dogs at the events.
Bike Fest is a family event with some of the activities focused for 6- to 12-year-old girls and boys. They register for a chance to win a new bike; there are two brand new bikes raffled off at each event. Then we also raffle off used bikes that have been donated and repaired. At the registration table the kids get a “punch card” with activities on it. Once they complete the punch card they will get a gift bag. The gift bag typically contains a water bottle, lock, stickers, etc. At the Bike Fest there are six to eight activities for the kids to participate in: repair a flat tube, ride the safety course, get fitted for a new helmet, get a free basic tune-up, ride a high-wheeler, ride a unicycle, brain injury simulation station.
What’s one piece of advice you would give a youth if they were looking to ride a bike more frequently?
Wear a helmet. Lock your bike when you are not riding it! Ride safe and enjoy the trails we have; we are so blessed to have such a great trail system.