One of the great things about being in AmeriCorps is that your term of service is full of opportunities to learn. This October I had the opportunity to do that for four days straight at the Bike!Bike! Conference in New Orleans.
Bike!Bike! is a yearly meeting of non-profit bike projects from across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Started in 2004, Bike!Bike! Is held annually in a different city in the US or Canada. The meeting is an opportunity for bike projects to support each other by sharing experiences and expertise. It’s also a lot of fun and a great opportunity to recharge to go back and serve the community.
During Bike!Bike!, I learned an incredible amount about what different bike co-ops and nonprofits are doing across North America to promote cycling, further social justice and inclusion, and encourage self-sufficiency. I learned about how the Boise Bicycle Project is getting hundreds of bikes out to low income people in their area, how Bike Pirates in Toronto is building community through food and group rides, and how Plan B in New Orleans distributes bikes and supplies from more established bike collectives to groups just starting up in Alabama and Mississippi.
The conference was also a great opportunity to learn how other groups are working on some of the same issues that we’re dealing with at the Iowa City Bike Library. I learned how groups in Tucson, Salt Lake City, Winnipeg, and Portland are dealing with growth, both in terms of space and staff (or not hiring staff and why they choose not to)- something that has been on our agenda here in Iowa City with our upcoming move. I learned how groups across North America are dealing with issues of gender equality and encouraging women and minority participation in their projects, and how different groups are encouraging people with less developed mechanical skills to get involved.
I have to shout out thanks to the Iowa City Bike Library for agreeing to send me and Sean, one of our most dedicated volunteers to Bike!Bike! Thanks as well to NCAT for agreeing to fund part of the cost of sending me down to New Orleans. The conference was really inspirational and gave me a lot of great ideas for ways that I can further our mission of getting more folks on bikes here in Iowa. I hope I’ll be able to head to Bike!Bike! 2014 in Columbus!
Samuel Jensen has a B.S. in Urban Planning from Roskilde University in Copenhagen, Denmark. He also holds the title of co-founder of the Milwaukee Transit Riders Union. Samuel is placed at the Iowa City Bike Library, working to increase bicycling and environmental awareness through education and outreach. He also assists in creating and implementing a cycling course that educates the community about the energy merits of alternative transportation.