Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative – Earn-A-Bike Program Overview 2015

Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative (DECC), Earn-A-Bike Program had another great year, with 91 student receiving bike repair instructions bringing the total to more than 300 students. Funding from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) and DALMAC allowed us to build our capacity by securing enough equipment and supplies to establish 18 work stations and conduct up to three classes simultaneously. It also help us to enhance the most significant differences in our program. We take the class to the students. Instead of working out of a stationary shop, we have a mobile system where we can transform just about any room into a bicycle workshop. We also increased the capacity of one of our partner organizations in 2014 (Mt. Elliott Makerspace) to accommodate twice as many students.

Funding from the CFSEM provided DECC the opportunity to expand our Earn-A-Bike Program from 33 participants in 2012 and 2013 to 147 participants in 2014 and another 91 in 2015, totaling 304 youth. The program runs from March through August with partners at seven East Detroit locations, Butzel Family Center, Village at Parkside (Friends), Marion Law Academy, The Martix Center, Marquette Elementary/Middle School, Farwell Recreation Center and Mt. Elliott Makerspace. We conduct classes ranging from 7 to 14 days, 2.5 to 3.5 hours per day, averaging 10 students per class. Class times and duration was based on availability of students and the ability of each class to complete each lesson. Some classes moved faster than others because students have a better grasp of the material being taught. Students ages ranges from 8 to 18 years of ages.

Each of the locations provided space for DECC to set up their Earn-A-Bike workshops with the exception of Mt. Elliott Makerspace. Mt. Elliott Makerspace has their own shop at their location. DECC supported Mt. Elliott Makerspace by providing bikes, tools, bike stands, helmets, locks, t-shirts and supplies.

One of the key partners of the program is Back Alley Bikes. They trained and provided instructors and prepared bikes for class. One of the secrets of our success is bike preparation. Student work on bikes that have been donated to DECC or Back Alley Bikes. However there are thousands of different bike configurations. Back Alley Bikes carefully selecting bikes that have similar components, like, brakes systems, tire size, bottom bracket, and gears. The bikes are disassembled and prepared for the class. This way class instruction is like putting together a puzzle where everyone has the same pieces. Making it easier for instructors to keep students on the same page as they move through the lesson.

We met the objectives of the program and learned a few things in the process. Our evaluation was informed by interviews with students, partners and instructors, observation and pre and post-tests. Participants learned to repair and maintain bicycles, including how to tune-up and troubleshoot problems with flat tires, spokes, gears, chains, brakes and handle bars. We were successful in teaching youth a useful skill, building self-esteem, highlighting their accomplishments, increasing knowledge about bike safety and greenways, and helping them discover the hidden value in refurbishing used bikes. In addition to bike repair skills students learned how to ride safely on the street. This gave them the opportunity to road test their bikes and practice bike safety riding skills learned in class; such as, how to use hand signals for stopping, left and right turns, how to ride with the direction of traffic, and how to follow street signs and bike lane marking on the road.

Since 2014 all students were given pre and post exams designed to measures how much they learned during the course. On average student scores increased from a range of 45%-60% to 60%- 95%. However students showed more knowledge of the material during their hands on work in the class room. In 2015 we continued pretest, however after each class they wrote a 3-4 sentence paragraph about what they learned during the day. On the last day of class they were required to take a final examination. These written examination valuations are mostly a test of bicycle component and tool use knowledge. We found in 2014 that while students’ retention of mechanical knowledge was high, their vocabulary was not. Since then we’ve been writing the vocabulary on a white or chalk board during each class and almost all our students have scored between 80-100% on their final evaluations.

Retention of mechanical knowledge is measured by how well students are able to complete tasks without the help of an instructor. This varies widely from student to student. Approximately 30% of the students require only a little to no guidance, while closer to 20% have to be watched more closely. The other 50% lies somewhere in between. Those who have high retention often finish early and help others. Those in the middle are able to fully complete their bikes on time. Those with low retention often need extra one on one time with an instructor near the end of the session to complete an unfinished system on their bike.

Students were also responsible for providing a community service activity. The students at the Butzel Family Center helped with Butzel’s annual Youth Jamboree by helping to inspect bicycles that were given away at the program. Students from Parkside and Law Academy conducted a community pop-up bicycle inspection station in their neighborhood, student from the Matrix Center participated in their Osborn neighborhood parade and the students a Mt. Elliott Makerspace help youth in their neighborhood fix bikes as part of their program.

On completion of the class each student received the bike they repaired in class, a helmet, lock and official Earn-A-Bike t-shirt. The Villages at Parkside had the largest number of participants with 77, several became excellent students. The public housing complex also have several youth who wanted to attend the class but couldn’t for various reasons. We gave Parkside a work station set-up to use so their young bike mechanics could continue to help children in their complex fix their bikes.

Overall classes have been a lot of fun. Every student who has fully attended the class has earned their bike. In each session there have been two or three students who excel at bicycle mechanics enough to be able to help and even teach struggling students. The rides have also been very successful. Approximately 92% of the bikes have been totally ready to ride by day 7. In the beginning we had some trouble with our ride formation. There were a few minor bike to bike collisions and some students had trouble riding in a straight line. The good news is there haven’t been any injuries and we’ve adjusted our instructing techniques so we’ve had no problems keeping everyone in perfect formation.
Earn-A-Bike staff produced an eight and fifteen minute video to promote the program. The video highlights the program and includes testimonials from partner organizations and students. Visit our web site, to view videos.

Lessons Learned
Information for this section of the report was generated through a combination of methods; interviews with students and partners, observations, pre and post test analysis.

• An Earn-A-Bike course that is between 8 and 14 days (24 to 42 hours or three hours per day) works best, because students start to get restless beyond that time. The younger students (8 to 12) take about 10 to 14 day and the older students (13 to 17) 7 to 11 days. This is because the older students are better able to handle the tools.

• There should be no more than 3 students at a station working on a bike, (2 students per station works best). We found that six work station with twelves students and two instructors worked best for a class size.

• In 2014 we provided a stipend at each location for someone to coordinate student participation. They recruit students, address disciplinary issues and make sure students are attending class. That allows the instructor to concentrate on teaching their lesson. However this was an expense we couldn’t afford in 2015 and it didn’t seem to effect attendance or the need for disciplinary action.

• There is growing interest for Earn-A-Bike classes across the City. During our 2014 and 2015 seasons we received several inquiries about bringing our program to schools and community centers.

• During the Earn-A-Bike course students learn how to safely ride on the street to test their skills riding in a group and use the appropriate hand signals. Some of the rides where as long as ten miles. We found that most students had not venture out from their neighborhood on bike that far and found it to be an enlightening experience.

• Most students do better with the hands on mechanics versus the written test. Students take a pre and post tests on bicycle tools and parts. We have found that students do much better identifying the proper tool for the job when they are actually working on a bike versus the written test.

• Have the students refer and use a chalk of white board in class help student improve on the post written examination.

• Having an experience bike mechanic is invaluable. We partnered with Back Alley Bikes to identify instructors for our program. They were very helpful making sure the instructors were prepared and knowledgeable.

• The Pop-Up bike shop revealed that there are lots of bikes in the local community that need repair.

• At our Parkside location there was a request to have parents participate with their child in one of the classes. In 2015 we explored a parent and child Earn-A-Bike class. It was a great parent and child activity.

• Our Earn-A-Bike curriculum consist of a minimum of 21 hours usually on consecutive days, however during the year we have learned how to be a flexible to account for after school programs that have less than 3 hours, rain days and students that have other demands, like sports programs or other extra curricula activities.

• Back Alley Bikes has increased their knowledge on how the conduct offsite Earn-A-Bike class and has taken more of a class coordination role.

• Riding on the streets was a great experience, we should explore how students could ride on some of the trails in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland Counties.

• During some of our classes when parents were picking up kids after class, there were question about how to share the road. We need to find a way to incorporate driver and cyclist share to road education.