Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Maine Rules of the Road

Did you know that Maine law requires a headlight and tail light visible to up to 500 feet? Did you know that riders under 16 are required to wear a helmet and may be subject to a $25 fine if they fail to do so? (But it's always a good idea of every cyclist, of course!)

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has a great one-pager that outlines all the basic stuff. Check it out here. Before all rides, it is very important that participants understand how to safely and legally ride in roads. Riding in a straight line is difficult for many younger kids, and traffic can be intimidating even for the most seasoned rider -- if you ever feel unsafe, it's always ok to step off your bicycle and "become a pedestrian".

And here's a great road safety video (especially for our ride chaperones!), produced by the League of American Bicyclists. Included is the ABC Quick Check, a tool we often use for making sure bikes are safe to ride:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"There's nothing for me to do!"

Recently we've noticed that lots of kids are coming in, looking to spend time in the shop and not particularly interested in fixing up a bike for themselves. Here's a brainstormed list of things that anyone can do:
  1. Make a bike stool
  2. Organize parts bins
  3. Clean parts in parts bins
  4. Make/write thank you notes for volunteers or participants
  5. Disassemble a bike for parts
  6. Help with someone else's project
  7. Fix a bike to donate to the shop
  8. Fix a bike for the shop to sell
  9. Take pictures of people/projects in the shop
  10. Make some bike art
  11. Design a new logo for the shop/a special event
  12. Make a poster to promote biking/the shop
  13. Find catalog codes for items on the needs list
  14. Organize the bike rooms/fold bikes
  15. Make homemade bike tools
  16. Design a t-shirt for a special event
  17. Decorate a helmet
  18. Interview volunteers/participants for feedback
And that's just a few of them!

HighScope Model: Safe Environment

The Community Bicycle Center uses the HighScope Educational Research Foundation model for quality youth programs (more info here) to help guide our program quality improvement. The model identifies five areas to pay attention to: psychological and emotional safety are promoted, the physical environment is safe and free of health hazards, emergency procedures and supplies are present, program space and furniture accommodate activities, and healthy food and drinks are provided.

While this may seem like an abstract concept, there are a few things to keep in mind as you work with kids in the shop or out on a ride. Our guiding children's behavior plan (a.k.a. behavior management plan) identifies six rights, one of which is safety.

Here are some tips for promote physical safety:
1. Ask and learn how to use tools safely and to pick the appropriate one -- accidents happen when you least expect them, so always be on the lookout!
2. Tell each other when you notice something unsafe. There are lots of sharp things in the shop, and keep an eye on the people around you.
3. Keep the work area clean and organized. Don't leave tools on the floor, and clean up messes quickly (especially the oily ones!)
4. If you're hungry or thirsty, grab a drink or a snack (just ask one of the staff).

For emotional safety:
1. Take a break when you are feeling frustrated or angry.
2. Use respectful language, and remind others when they forget to do so.
3. Recognize that everyone's situation is different, and so are their personalities.
4. Perhaps most importantly, make sure to communicate. It's the first step towards understanding.

What are some tips that you have found helpful for promoting a physically and emotionally safe environment in the shop or on bike rides?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tips for Mentoring with Bike Repair (Part One of Many)

From time to time, everyone has a difficult or frustrating afternoon in the shop -- at our staff meeting last Monday, we added to an ongoing list of tips to keep in mind when you're fixing up a bike during our daily drop-ins:

-No two people learn the same way, and it never hurts to ask a student what works best for them.
-Quite often a step backwards precedes a big step forward.
-Mentors and students have equal footing in the shop, but it is most often up to the mentor to lead.
-Teach by example, even when clueless -- learning together teaches how to learn.
-Expect to be tested by students (and when it happens, don't take it personally).
-Consistency goes a long way.
-Set boundaries, and respect them. Ask for student input regularly.
-When frustrated, it's ok to walk away and return with a fresh perspective.
-Disrespectful language and behavior are not acceptable -- the shop must be a safe place for everyone.

More to come, so stay posted!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First post of the Community Bicycle Center Blog!

Hello CBCers,

Welcome to the brand new CBC blog! This site will serve as a forum to share experiences and ideas, and everyone is welcome to participate. In addition to updating all of you in cyberspace with the daily happenings at the shop, we will also be posting resources to supplement our volunteer and skills trainings.

Happy cycling (and don’t forget to subscribe),

Community Bicycle Center