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The Bike Church: Helping Asbury

Park Youth, One Rider at a Time

get older.

 

The Asbury Park Police Department is supportive of the program and sends officers to speak to the kids about bike safety. Bikes earned by participants are registered with the Asbury Park police. When bikes are stolen, Martin assists in filing a police report and the bikes are often recovered. Martin explained that this process helps kids learn that seeking assistance from law enforcement is a positive experience.


Most children who participate in the Bike Church range from 6-12 years of age and eagerly greet Martin as “Miss Kerri” when they convene on Mondays. These Bike Church “congregants” reflect the racially and ethnically diverse shore community of Asbury Park, which is the most densely populated municipality in Monmouth County. Asbury Park has been fighting economic depression for years, with over 30 percent of its population living below the poverty line. It is against this backdrop that Martin has created what she describes as an “urban oasis and hangout for the kids,” where they can bike, jump rope and play, with some parents even showing up and barbecuing food for all.

 

Some specific activities offered by the Bike Church include:

 

  • Hosting bike rides every Tuesday morning in the summer, with about 12 kids biking together to

 

    the nearby Ocean Grove Fishing Pier


  • Biking together in the Asbury Park Fourth of July Parade. The kids decorate their bikes and about 50 Bike Church members participated in the 2008 parade

  • Attending the Clearwater Festival in August held in Asbury Park. The group convenes on their bikes at the annual eco-festival where Martin draws a large crowd by making healthy fruit smoothie drinks in a food blender placed on the back of her bike called “Pedal Power”

 

What’s Next for the Bike Church


Now going into its fourth summer, the Bike Church program is well recognized and supported by the Asbury Park community.  Martin said that the program thus far has been “sustained by a collective energy and excitement,” with some funding support from donations. As a next step, Martin wants to harness that energy into expanding the program so that it more thoroughly encompasses elements of health, nutrition, environmental concern, exercise and safety.


A running program for the Bike Church kids was begun recently, in collaboration with the Jersey Shore Running Club. Another key goal for the program focuses on broadening its outreach to the community, such

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