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Saving the best for last

Last Saturday was my best day of work ever. I have been at Bicycle Colorado doing work I love for more than seven years, so that says a lot. Saturday was exceptional because my two greatest passions—working with people from different cultures and teaching adults how to ride—collided in one inspiring afternoon.

Photos from the Bike School
photo: Natalie Starr

The beginning of a Bike School

Photos from the Bike School
photo: Natalie Starr

Over my years as a educator, I have had many adults contact me to ask where they can learn to ride a bike. In response, I started teaching private lessons and met amazingly brave adults who all had different stories about why they never learned to ride a bike.

A few came from dense cities with good public transit and never needed a bike to get around. Some told me they had a scary experience and never tried again. But the most noticeable trend was that the majority of adults I taught were women from places where girls aren’t taught to ride (though boys are). I taught women from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, China and India.

After three years of teaching private lessons, it became clear that there were many more adults I wasn’t reaching. But luckily I work at the right place to reach them!

With the support of my colleagues, Bicycle Colorado launched our Bike School with the mission to teach both youth and adults how to ride bikes, with the long-term goal of getting many more people riding bikes.

The first adult class on Saturday

Photos from the Bike School
photo: Natalie Starr

Because many people don’t know about the Bike School yet, I did some outreach to ensure a full class and a great first event. I partnered with the African Community Center (ACC) to reach refugee women who had never learned to ride.

Having worked with refugees in the past, I knew that many of these women likely didn’t have the opportunity to learn and could also benefit both economically and emotionally from this wonderful life skill.

We had 11 women at the classes on Saturday, some from the ACC and some who found us online or heard about the class on Telemundo. Six of the 11 learned to ride confidently. The five others were right on the cusp and we will work with them again. The women were originally from Burma, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Mexico, India, Ethiopia and right here in Colorado. Their ages spanned from 28 to 60.

Some of the students who learned to ride on Saturday even graduated from riding in a parking lot to riding on the Cherry Creek bike path as a group, learning to pass each other, signal and mingle with other Colorado cyclists. Those who did not quite learn left feeling exhausted, proud and ready to keep learning.

How it felt

I cannot fully convey how inspiring and brave these women are. In one day, they taught us all about perseverance and resilience, joy and empowerment. We cheered and we laughed together and everyone overcame barriers and fears.

Saturday was the best day of my career at Bicycle Colorado. I will be leaving at the end of May to move back to Oregon where my family lives, and after Saturday I feel that I will be leaving behind an amazing resource—a Bike School where anyone can learn to ride a bicycle for the first time—a first step to changing our transportation culture from the ground up.

Before I go

Photos from the Bike School
photo: Natalie Starr

I definitely feel that I saved the best for last in regards to my wonderful career at Bicycle Colorado. I hope that all of you will help us to continue this legacy by telling others about the Bike School and, if you are willing, donating scholarship dollars to our school so that we can continue to reach people who could not afford it otherwise.

I want to give a huge thanks to New Belgium Brewing Company for helping us to start the school through one of their bicycle advocacy grants. Thanks also to the ongoing support of Primal Wear and Alchemy Bicycle Company’s Rollout Cafe for providing us with a wonderful space to meet students, enjoy treats and teach. A final thanks to Specialized for providing wonderful teaching bikes. With their support and with support from all of you, we hope to teach many more people of all ages and cultures in the coming years. [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Bicycle Colorado

About the Author: Bicycle Colorado

Bicycle Colorado is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Denver. We use advocacy, education and passion to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of our members and numerous partnerships across the public and private sector, we’ve made significant strides in improving bicycling since 1992.


David - Reply

Beautiful work, Jenna. We’re sure going to miss you here!

Terry Malouf - Reply

Been meaning to call you, but I am afraid I won’t be able to talk b/c I will be crying. So happy for your new adventure, yet so sad to see you go. (We all are) You are a miracle girl, and have done so much for Bicycle Colorado and the world in general! See you at the Gala!

Suzana - Reply

I am one of those who attended th class. Thank you very much for your ” patience”. It was challenging yet fun. Finally beingcomfortable on a bike at 48 years was unbelievable. Cheers

    Jenna Berman - Reply

    We loved having you!


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