How Bike Club Works
Bike Club kicks-off each year in late September and runs for approximately 25-30 weeks, finishing in early May. Students who complete the program earn a bicycle and helmet. Each club is made up of roughly 20 elementary students (primarily 5th graders) and five volunteers — this number includes faculty member(s). Equipment needed to run club activities, such as bicycles, helmets, safety vests, curriculum, drill supplies, maps, etc., along with adult-size bicycles, are provided to each participating school.
In the fall, students and adult volunteers meet weekly after school to ride bikes and work on cycling skills, life skills (confidence, respect, following rules, etc.) and other activities (for instance, STEM learning). And the spring semester is focused more on off-campus rides and experiences — for example, students may ride to a fire station, museum, park, restaurant or other nearby place of interest.
Founding Bike Club
Our kid-centered program started with a few like-minded people. People who were passionate and understood the power of bicycles.
In 2008, Jason Whorton began building and giving kids free bikes through his 501(c)3 non-profit Humble Sons Bike Company. Whorton's initial efforts consisted of giving away 22 bikes. He has since given away nearly 6,000 bicycles and helmets to children. His program was growing at an exponential rate. Whorton's knack for getting things done soon outgrew his charity's primary mission — he began looking for what was next.
Mike Wozniak started a bicycle-themed bar in 2006 with his best friend after changing his life by riding a bike all over Oklahoma. Wozniak saw the transformative power of a bicycle first hand and wanted to share this feeling of health and community. He wanted to save the world with a bike but had no idea where to begin.
Wozniak joined the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) through the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) to see how he could help get more people on bikes. It was at a BPAC meeting where Wozniak met Gary Percefull, a board member of Tulsa Public Schools. Wozniak told Percefull about his ideas to change the world by getting people on bikes. Percefull replied, "I don't know about the world, but I have some school kids who sure could use you."
Wozniak was later given Whorton's information. "I was in after the first phone call," said Whorton.
Bike Club was introduced at Emerson Elementary in the 2014-15 school year. Bike Club immediately became a part of Emerson's culture. The program serves multiple roles for participating children. The volunteers encourage engagement, leadership, good citizenship and participate as mentors to many of the children as well. In fact, several children who have gone on to middle school have come back to Emerson to see "Mr. Mike."
"I've just seen positive changes," said Emerson Elementary Principal Tammie States. "They have taken more of a leadership role. Not only in Bike Club but in their classrooms. They feel good about themselves because they are a part of something that is unique."
In the 2015-2016 school year, five more Bike Clubs were established at TPS elementary schools. Three more schools were added in the 2016-2017 school year.
In the 2017-18 school year, Bike Club's will be operated at 14 Tulsa Public Schools - adding three more elementary schools and our first middle school Bike Club - with plans to reach additional children through program expansion each year.
Watch out world. Here comes Bike Club!