2015-04-29 / Front Page

Bike NY Student Ambassadors To Ride In Bike Tour

For many cyclists, this year’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour (May 3) will be their first; for some, it will be their first large-scale organized ride ever. The non-profit Bike New York has invited 20 New Yorkers who have recently benefited from its free bike education program (funded in large part by proceeds from the Tour) to participate in this 40-mile, car-free, bucket-list event now in its 38th year. This diverse group participated in the largest free urban bike education program in the world, with the largest organized bike ride in North America.

One of the group, Lebogang Mokwena, is a Sunnyside resident who came to New York City from Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2014 to earn her master’s degree in sociology at the New School, recognizes that learning how to ride a bike means much more than feeling safe and confident on NYC streets: “It’s reminded me that we should never allow ourselves to plateau, or think that we are too old to do anything new,” she says. “Learning something new is not only useful, it’s an important way of shifting our own expectations of ourselves and what we are capable of.” Mokwena actively participated in South Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and plans to return there with a PhD and work in academia or the social sector – and bicycling may play a role. “This experience has made me think about how awesome a Bike Johannesburg would be,” she says. “Perhaps when I go back to my home country, I’ll be inspired to help start one up!”

“The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is a celebration of our collective passion and the community that that passion creates,” says Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York. “Our free bike education classes are where we pass the torch to those who will celebrate with us in years to come.” Last year alone, Bike New York empowered more than 16,000 New Yorkers with the skills they need to ride safely and confidently. The stories of these new cyclists, and the teachers and volunteers who encouraged them, who will get to experience the event that made it possible for them to learn, are inspiring in their own right.

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