Graduation Day at Faubion Elementary School’s Bike Club

(Note: This was originally published on the Community Cycling Center’s blog here.)

The Spring session of Bike Club at Faubion Elementary wrapped up with 100% graduation rate. Twelve kids completed the 6 weeks with no more than two absences and actively participated in the entire program.

Bike Club is a project of Community Cycling Center that is run through SUN, a program of Multnomah County, the City of Portland and Portland Public Schools. Ashley, the SUN Coordinator at Faubion Elementary, is an amazing resource for us, and is always there for suggestions, words of encouragement, and guidance. At the beginning of this Bike Club, Ashley pulled us aside to let us know one of our kids, Jeffrey*, almost wasn’t allowed into the program. Jeffrey, like many students, has a difficult time learning in a traditional classroom environment and school staff expressed concerns about his safety on the road. The SUN Coordinator shared that he could be a challenge, but she wanted to give him an opportunity to succeed.

Over the six-week period, Jeffrey did prove to be a challenge, but there were rays of hope along the way.

We teach each student to do personal and mechanical safety checks before getting on the bike each day. Jeffrey did perfect safety checks. And while he’d occasionally bump the tire of the bike in front of him, he was usually one of our stronger riders when we were on the road. And with the rainy Spring weather, Jeffrey was rarely one to complain. It seemed as though his bike provided an outlet for all of his energy and activity.

The last week of Bike Club, on top of his usual spotless safety checks, Jeffrey signaled, shoulder checked, and rode better than most experienced adult commuters I see. It was a pleasure to see him riding with confidence and focused only on the ride. Additionally, Sara*, the wobbly rider from my first post, was the leader on our last ride and with the right words of encouragement rose to the occasion.

If Bike Club has taught me anything, it’s that given the right circumstances, appropriate encouragement, and a little confidence bikes can bring out the best in all of us.

*All students’ names have been changed in the interest of privacy.