Safe Routes Scoop

The Bike Church: Helping Asbury

Park Youth, One Rider at a Time

Program Origins


How do you encourage children in your community to enjoy all the benefits of bike riding while in a safe and supportive environment? This was the key question Kerri Martin sought to answer when she created the Bike Church program in Asbury Park in 2005. Martin describes the Bike Church as a youth “earn-a-bike” program with a core focus on recycling, as all of the bikes in the program are donated.


Martin became familiar with youth bike programs while working with the Recycle-a-Bicycle initiative of New York City. After relocating to the Asbury Park area, Martin went to work for the Brielle Cyclery where she began pursuing her idea of a bike recycling clinic targeted to the children of Asbury Park.

 

Martin approached city officials and reached out to local civic organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club. She ultimately found a home for her program when she met Father Bill McLaughlin of Asbury Park’s Holy Spirit Church. Father McLaughlin facilitates a variety of community programs and offered the use of the church garage and driveway for Martin’s youth program.

After cleaning the garage and bringing in used bikes she had been collecting and restoring, Martin focused on determining the best way to recruit kids. She knew some local children who had asked her for used

bikes, so she contacted them with instructions to come to the church garage on a Monday afternoon in May 2005. The Bike Church was born.

 

With no operating funds or flyers to advertise the Bike Church, Martin relied on word-of-mouth to generate community interest in the program which was scheduled for Mondays from 4-7 pm from May through November.  Bikes were donated by many within and beyond the Asbury Park community. The donated bikes and tools were stored in the church garage and the driveway/parking lot was used for teaching bike safety and bicycle repair work.

 

What Does the Bike Church Offer?


Martin describes the weekly sessions as “controlled chaos” and a “tool explosion,” as the children “learn by doing” and typically earn a bike after participating in the program for four weeks.

 

In addition to learning the ABC’s of bike repair, bike safety is taught through discussions, group rides, and the use of obstacle courses Martin and volunteers organize in the church parking lot. Helmets are purchased with donations; and representatives from the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey visit once a year to speak on the importance of helmet safety.  Martin noted helmet safety is a concern, because children often resist wearing helmets as they

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