December 22, 2017 - Nate Dorfman, a 2016 Greg Siple Award for Young Adult Bicycle Travel winner, shares his outreach project.
Nate Dorfman, a 2016 Greg Siple Award for Young Adult Bicycle Travel winner, taught kids in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s 61st and Peoria neighborhood how to ride a bike for his outreach project.
Tulsa’s 61st and Peoria neighborhood is often associated with violence and crime and nearly 40 percent of the residents live on very low incomes.
About a year ago, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma received a $500,000 federal Community-Based Crime Reduction (CBCR) grant which I currently manage. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, this grant has supported comprehensive, community-oriented strategies to reduce crime and ultimately revitalize neighborhoods like 61st and Peoria. As Tulsa’s CBCR site coordinator, thinking about how the residents of 61st and Peoria could be best empowered, I saw that cycling could make a difference.
Directly adjacent to the neighborhood’s apartment complexes is the River Parks Trail system, a network of bicycle paths that span over thirty miles, connecting Tulsa’s downtown with surrounding suburbs, and linking with the Adventure Cycling Association’s Bicycle Route 66. The River Parks Trail is essentially in 61st and Peoria residents’ backyard.
This made me realize that through cycling, 61st and Peoria neighborhood youth and their families could engage in a positive activity that is healthy, safe, and accessible.
With these ideas in mind, I collaborated with Tom’s Bicycles, a bike shop in 61st and Peoria committed to helping their community. Together, we designed a bike program called Cycle 61. Approximately 50 children, some of whom had not ridden a bicycle before, participated in the program during which they learned bike safety skills and gained riding experience in the shop’s large parking lot. Participants also built trust with neighborhood police officers who co-taught the Cycle 61 classes as part of grant-related, community policing efforts. At the end of the program, children earned their own bicycles, which Tulsa community members donated.
Looking ahead, we envision expanding Cycle 61 with additional classes and even monthly group rides where kids and their parents can pedal along the River Parks Trail together. Organizing and coordinating Cycle 61 has been a fun way of giving back to the community. It makes me happy to see how the program has inspired 61st and Peoria youth to consider new possibilities and perhaps one day embark on cycling journeys of their own.
Photos courtesy of Nate Dorfman
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Great to see Tom Brown recognized here. I remember seeing him out on the OK Freewheel helping people with their mechanicals and air.