Multilingual Education Classes Respond to Community Needs
By Robert Prinz, Education Director
Over the past year, Bike East Bay has seen our Spanish- and Cantonese-language bicycle education program grow by leaps and bounds. Since 2012, Bike East Bay’s in-language workshops have reached thousands of adults, youth, and families with confidence-boosting resources on overcoming barriers to bicycling and having more fun on every trip. We distribute bike lights, helmets, reflective gear, and more to help class attendees take more bike trips in all conditions. By late 2016, however, we needed to add more instructors to meet a growing demand and update our programs to address more community needs.
Growing Our Team
Last fall we hosted a new bike class instructor certification seminar with expenses paid for all participants via a generous donation from Bay Area Bicycle Law. Among the fifteen attendees were several multilingual instructors from our local bike advocacy partners, including Ana Villalobos of Bike Concord and Donna Chang of Bike Walk San Leandro. Throughout the first half of 2017, the newly certified instructors continued their training by co-teaching Bike East Bay classes.
These classes benefitted from the unique experiences and expertise of our new instructors. Ana Villalobos, a long-time community health educator, agreed to teach with the understanding that she felt uncomfortable riding in traffic and would not be leading group rides. In turn, her own apprehension helped her better understand and account for the concerns of the class attendees she worked with. Via her position at Contra Costa Health Services, Ana also helped connect us with class locations at community events and festivals.
Our incredibly dedicated partners at public libraries, city parks, recreation centers, and affordable housing developments have been key players in the multilingual program. One of these new partners is Gilbert Gong, director of the Lincoln Square Recreation Center in Oakland’s Chinatown.
One of these new partners is Gilbert Gong, director of the Lincoln Square Recreation Center in Oakland’s Chinatown. With Gilbert’s guidance regarding the most accessible dates and times for the Lincoln Square community, several dozen community members showed up for our Cantonese-language Urban Cycling 101 workshop in April — a big increase over previous workshops. Our new Cantonese-speaking instructor Donna Chang co-taught the class providing instruction on topics like biking after dark and theft prevention. To our surprise, we learned that some of the enthusiastic attendees had never learned to ride a bike. Others said they could ride but they did not own a bike due to theft, maintenance, cost, and other issues.
Responding to these concerns, we worked with Gilbert to set up our first ever Cantonese-language Adult Learn-to-Ride class in June. In just a few hours, we helped 16 attendees get on two wheels for the first time.
“Bike East Bay has helped our community get over a huge barrier in learning about cycling safety. Our folks had the opportunity to have classes held in their native language of Cantonese which allowed them to become wiser about being safe while riding.” said Gong.
Later this fall we will return to Lincoln Square with a Cantonese-language workshop focused on the new Ford GoBike bike share system rolling out now in Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville. This way, more Chinatown community members can use bike share to get around town whether or not they own a bike.
Learn with us! To inquire about becoming an in-language bike instructor, contact Education Director Robert Prinz at Robert@BikeEastBay.org. Visit Bike East Bay’s education pages to register for a free bike education workshop or request a class at your location, through the support of Alameda County Transportation Commission and others.
Back to the Fall 2017 issue of RideOn, Bike East Bay’s quarterly newsletter.