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Youth Bike Summit
As students go back to school to learn those “three Rs,” from October 6–8, youth will be coming to the Washington, D.C., area this to study a fourth R — Riding! More precisely, hundreds of young people and adults from around the country will converge on the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, VA, to explore how bicycling can be a catalyst for positive social change at the 2017 Youth Bike Summit.
The Youth Bike Summit (YBS) is a three-day conference geared toward youth, bikes, education, advocacy\ and leadership. Each year, people from different ages, disciplines and backgrounds gather together to learn, share, network and discover the power of the bicycle. The event line-up includes keynote speakers, hands-on workshops, panel presentations (many led by youth), and various other opportunities to share ideas about what biking can mean for youth, families, communities, and our planet. This momentous national event also offers a dynamic, engaging and thought-provoking visioning session with youth and adults working in communities near and far as well as a National Youth Bike Ride. By creating a space where ideas from bicyclists of all ages and backgrounds can be heard, the Youth Bike Summit fosters an inclusive national dialogue that addresses the issues, rights and concerns of all bicyclists.
Part of what makes the seventh annual Youth Bike Summit so meaningful is that, by being hosted in our Nation’s capital, it’s coming full circle. In March 2010, Kimberly White and Kristi Nanco, two bike-loving high school interns from Recycle-A-Bicycle’s Earn-A-Bike program in New York City, expressed an interest in learning more about how bicycling fits into policy, the environment, social entrepreneurship and community-building. The organization responded by supporting Kimberly and Kristi to attend the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. During their first trip to the Nation’s capital, the then-17 year-old participants explored the city by bike, attended the conference, and lobbied elected officials on Capitol Hill. As the pair debriefed on the bus ride home, they discussed the importance of engaging people of all ages and backgrounds in the national dialogue of cycling education and advocacy. As a result, the idea of the Youth Bike Summit came into being. Both young advocates have been active participants in founding and growing the Youth Bike Summit, which was hosted in New York City for the first four years, followed by Seattle in 2015 and Minneapolis in 2016. And even more exciting, both Kim and Kristi will be returning this year as part of the keynote session for YBS17!
The 2017 Youth Bike Summit is hosted by Phoenix Bikes, an Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit founded in 2007 with a mission of educating youth, promoting bicycling, and building community. When looking for a host for the 2017 summit, Phoenix Bikes was quick to take up the task knowing that there were so many great resources for biking and bike advocacy in the D.C. area that could be leveraged in support of this effort. In fact, a Host City Committee representing 18 different local organizations has been working for over a year to help plan this year’s summit. Noe, a 19-year-old Senior Youth Mechanic at Phoenix Bikes who will be attending his third summit (pictured second from the right), shares why you should be part of YBS17: “I believe that this year's Youth Bike Summit will be the best due to the location of where it's being hosted. We are located in an area that is filled with a large biking community and giving the people an opportunity to experience our community will be thrilling. Even more, the idea for a Youth Bike Summit started in D.C. and having that idea come back to its origin will give the whole summit a bigger value and excitement.”
So come join Noe, Phoenix Bikes, and youth and adults from all over the country to support the next generation of bicycle advocates by registering, volunteering or sponsoring a youth to attend YBS17! And although the youth in attendance may at first seem like the students, the adults in attendance will likely find that the youth are, in fact, the teachers.
Meg Rapelye is Executive Director of Phoenix Bikes.