Smiles and smoothies! Those are two words that come to mind when I reflect on my afternoon spent with kids in San Jose. It was a crisp and sunny winter day, and the smiles and enthusiasm were warm. SVBC partnered with Troy Apartments for Pedal2Health, which works with affordable housing developments on and near Vision Zero priority safety corridors in San José to offer bicycle safety education, community bike rides while leading Bike Ambassadors to continue the program in the community.

The afternoon began with some warm-ups – the kids pedaled our smoothie bike to blend a nourishing mixture of fruity sustenance. For those not inclined to jump on the smoothie bike, there were plenty of volunteers on hand to pedal the blender bike for others. Soon afterwards, we moved into the local community room to introduce some basic bike safety topics. The kids were soon savvy in the ABCs of bike safety checks: Air, Brakes, Chains. We then posed important street safe questions to the group: ‘do we stop at stop signs?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘How do we tell other cyclists and cars which direction we’re going?’ ‘Hand signals!’ There was no shortage of volunteers to demonstrate their new hand signal skills to their peers. The enthusiasm from the room carried on during our one mile group bike ride.

Since the route was near a Ford GoBike bike share station, several parents, whom previously signed up for Bike Share for All‘s $5 low-income membership, quickly unlocked a bike and were able to join their kids for a leisurely bike ride. Talk about a win-win! As I brought up the rear of our 12-person bike train, I was reminded of the glee and freedom I felt as a kid riding my sweet Schwinn bike around my neighborhood in central Wisconsin.

Wherever you are, and however old you are, the freedom to move at the pace of your own power is an amazing feeling. Sharing the afternoon amongst a group of enthused young riders reminded me how important it is to introduce kids to the benefits of safe leisurely riding at a young age. After all, statistically, it doesn’t take long to develop a habit. Let’s work together to develop safe bicycling habits early on!