Saturday, March 24, three Memphis biking organizations partnered with national organization Big Jump Project to host their second weekly glide ride event.
The city is targeting South Memphis for this program because a third of its inhabitants do not have access to a vehicle and there is an over representation of health issues like diabetes according to Nicholas Oyler, the bikeway and pedestrian manager for the city of Memphis.
“It’s all about getting some of the neighborhoods to be more engaged with their community and to give the teen ambassadors some leadership training and also training them to be an example,” native Memphian and glide rider co-host Oyler said.
Specifically, the local chapters for each program achieve their goals by enlisting teen ambassadors to represent their mission.
This South Memphis-based program taught teen ambassador and Hamilton High School senior Obdieah Robertson how to ride a bicycle and safety precautions while riding on public roads.
“When I was a little kid I didn’t even know how to ride a bike because my momma didn’t have time to teach me how to do that, but now I know how because of the program,” Robertson said.
Robertson also stated concerns about safety when riding in various communities as well as worries about reckless drivers not properly minding the presence of bikers and uneven streets.
Big Jump Project chose Memphis, as well as nine other cities nationwide, to assist in changing local biking infrastructure within the city government as well as increasing community vitality through wellness according to peopleforbikes.org.
Big Jump is a national initiative to teach young people the benefits of biking for transportation and exercise by sponsoring cities across the U.S. and has partnered with The Works Inc., City of Memphis Bikeway and Pedestrian Program and Revolutions Bicycle Cooperative
Memphian Lyndsay Pender, 24, of The Works Inc., assists in running the South Main Farmers Market, which hosts the weekly glide ride event.
“A lot of people in South Memphis deal with a number of health disparities,” Pender said. “I think this project is one of the ways to affect that. By promoting cycling as a health activity it can increase access to the activity.”
According to Oyler, the teen ambassadors must undergo a five month training course where they learn how to ride as well as safety training in order to receive a free bike.
The ambassadors will continue to host this weekly event every Thursday throughout the spring and summer.
In order to maintain the programs ideals of accessibility the rides will continue to be free and bicycles are available for public use on a first come first serve basis.