Photo: Recycle-A-Bicycle
"When two people on bicycles meet, they meet as human beings" - Enrique Penalosa, former Mayor of Bogota and 2013 Keynote Speaker
Over the long weekend we participated in the 2013 NYC Youth Bike Summit. This year marks the third time that this youth-focused event has been organized by Recycle-A-Bicycle and it attracted 379 youth and adults from 22 states and 4 countries. The successful event has been growing every year and sees many youth return annually to share the projects that they have initiated and participated in. With our own Ontario Youth Bike Summit coming up in October, we wanted to learn from the experts and meet the participants who make the event an annual staple on their calendar.
"I felt welcome" - Girls Bike Club Member (West Town Bikes, Chicago)
Youth played an important role in organizing and facilitating the summit. Many of the workshops were led by youth and one of the keynote speakers was 17-year-old Devlyn Chen who delivered an excellent address outlining all of the "firsts" that she had experienced because of bicycling. She was joined by former Mayor of Bogota Enrique Penalosa, who talked about the bicycle as a tool for equality and happiness. Both keynote speakers brought the audience to their feet with applause.
"Cities give more space to parked cars than to bicycles and pedestrians" - Enrique Penalosa
Workshop highlights included a hands on city-building workshop, a session on youth in governance and presentations by West Town Bikes. Under the guidance of the NYC Department of Transportation and the Museum of the City of NY, participants worked together to build a transportation system for a fictional city. The exercise elicited spirited discussions and produced cities filled with complete streets, pedestrian and cyclist-only areas and even a gondola.  In the afternoon, youth from West Town Bikes wowed audiences with their presentations on the Girls Bike Club and on creating economic opportunities for youth through bicycling. In the last workshop of the day, youth representatives from the Seattle BikeWorks Board of Directors facilitated a discussion on how organizations can successfully incorporate youth into their governance structure.
"[There is a difference between] allowing youth to participate within the existing structure of an organization and enabling youth to shape that structure" - Seattle BikeWorks
A big thank-you to everyone at Recycle-A-Bicycle, The New School, and to all of the summit sponsors for bringing this inspiring event to life. We learned a lot over our three days in NYC and hope to foster the same atmosphere of inclusiveness, excitement and engagement at Ontario's first Youth Bike Summit on Oct 6-7, 2013!
"If you want a more bike-friendly world, get organized and participate in politics"
- Enrique Penalosa