A bicycle riding group from Arlington will return on June 5 for an early, second-annual Bike for Kids day on the grounds of English High School (EHS) in JP.
Last October, in the aftermath of the pandemic, the Keep It Tight (KIT) bicycle club – based in Arlington and made up of residents from many Metro West communities – put together a quick program with the Boston Police and the HOPEWorldwide organization to teach selected young people how to safely ride a bike and, afterward, present them with a brand new bike to take home.
The success of the program brought tremendous momentum to the effort and an invigorated spirit of giving to the group. With sponsorships from Landry’s Cycles on Commonwealth Avenue for the bikes and the law firm of Breakstone, White and Gluck for the helmets, KIT gathered 25 volunteers and decided to come back for the second installment of the program a little earlier.
“This will be the second-annual event and we’re very excited about that,” said KIT member Richard Hislop. “We decided to do it earlier this year so the children will have more time to ride their new bikes in the summer months. We started our effort last year during the pandemic because it was a discouraging time for families and communities. With more time this year, we decided coming back in early June would give the kids more time to ride their bikes and practice the new skills we will teach them on the day of the event.”
Art Trapotsis, of KIT, last year said the group is a bike club made up of serious riders from Arlington, Lexington and Watertown, and they had been wanting to do some sort of event in the city to share their skills with kids who may not know how to ride a bike – as biking was and is identified during COVID-19 times as a great way for kids to get good, socially-distanced exercise.
This year, they already have increased their numbers of volunteers, and they will be able to accommodate 25 kids as opposed to 19 last year. The collaboration for the event is between HOPEWorldwide, Boston Church of Christ, Boston Police and KIT. Landry’s Cycles has once again stepped up to help the effort in providing new bikes and helmets came from the above-mentioned law firm.
Like last year, the event will be focused on showing young people how to ride a bike, as many do not fully know how to ride. Some have skills to ride a bike, but don’t know all the safety precautions. Both of those things will be addressed in learning stations throughout the EHS field and track on June 5.
“The goal for the day is to teach kids how to ride a bike and then also teach them proper road bike safety,” said Hislop.
One new feature, he said, is a training/orientation for KIT volunteers – helping them to be prepared to understand the young people they are helping.
“One thing this year that’s going to be added is we are changing our orientation for volunteers – putting an emphasis on what it takes for the volunteers to engage and encourage these families and kids that may be facing challenges at the moment,” he said. “It’s about helping to make sure we’re giving out respect and not charity when we engage.”
The event does take place on June 5, but participants are by invitation-only from the Boston Police.