Bicycle clubs at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Williamsburg and International High School at Union Square are working to send a delegation of students to Seattle. At the summit, El Puente’s students will present findings from a survey of their classmates about the potential for bicycling to relieve stress. Students from International High School, who are all recently-arrived immigrants learning English, hope to present a film about what bicycling has meant to them both in New York and in their countries of origin.
Both bike clubs have been working with Recycle-A-Bicycle to teach students bike maintenance as part of earn-a-bike programs, and have brought in Bike New York to teach safe riding skills. The after-school groups work mostly indoors in the winter, but when the weather warms up and daylight lasts longer, they go out for rides.
One of the milestones for El Puente students is pedaling over the Williamsburg Bridge on a trip to Manhattan. “I never knew how to ride a bike until bike club,” said Marielis Palen, 17, a senior at El Puente. “It took me three rides to finally get comfortable going over the bridge. It was funny because I really didn’t want to do it, because I was so scared.”
Once they get going, though, the students seem to never stop biking. Last October, a group of El Puente students rode in the Tour de Bronx. They hope to ride in the Five Boro Bike Tour in May.