Youth Cycling Program
We bring bikes, helmets, instructors, and an active curriculum to Boston Public Schools.
We help students from grades 2 to 12 learn bicycle safety through lessons, practice, and having fun. Boston Public Schools (BPS) are invited to apply for our program in the fall and spring each year. We typically visit each school for two weeks. We can sometimes accommodate one-week sessions for smaller schools.
YCP is a tremendous confidence builder for beginners and total enjoyment for those with more skills. YCP is helping lay the foundation for a more bicycle friendly Boston.
Our BPS hosts are often physical education teachers or principals, but any teacher can coordinate and host our visit. More than 38,000 young Bostonians have participated in the program since 2009.
Still have questions? Contact:
How to apply
We will not be offering the Youth Cycling Program this fall. We appreciate all the support from our partners and hope to bring back the program at some point.
About our program
We typically visit schools for two weeks. We aim to see each group of students four times during our visit.
During our first session with students, we conduct a classroom-based interactive bike safety workshop. We discuss why it's important to wear a helmet and follow traffic laws and how to safely maneuver a bike. These lessons are required before we get on bikes and will be age-appropriate.
During later sessions, student activities are on bikes. We use a variety of drills and games to reinforce the lessons of the week and practice bicycle handling skills. Older students may go on a group ride to local paths or parks.
NOTE: We will try to accommodate smaller schools with a single-week session. We will still need to students at least three times during that week.
Two Boston Bikes instructors will be at participating schools at all times. Our instructors will serve as the bicycle experts. We size your students for helmets and bikes, lead bicycle activities, and more.
Teachers serve as the lead in group management, behavior, discipline, and first aid. School hosts are responsible for coordination and logistics between our team and the school team, including the principal and all participating teachers.
HOW WE SELECT SCHOOLS EACH SEASON
Each season, we are happily overwhelmed with positive response to our call for applications. Unfortunately, we are limited in the number of schools we can visit during a season. To select schools, we do a first-round check that schools can provide:
- appropriate outdoor places for bike class
- a well-secured storage area for our fleet of bikes, and
- a full daily schedule for bike classes where we can work with students at least three times (preferably four times).
From there, we consider schools' stated session preferences and their participating grades. We need to make sure that we have enough of the right bikes for each age range. Final selection considers:
- the demographics of each schools' neighborhood
- our experience working with the school in the past, and
- how long it has been since we visited the school, if ever.
In the past, we often worked with larger schools so that we could reach the most students each year. However, this meant that many smaller schools were not able to participate. Beginning in 2018, we consider applications from smaller schools for one-week sessions. The above process will apply to all schools.
Want to host the Youth Cycling Program at your school? We need one to two coordinators — our "hosts" — from the school to help us figure out the details and be the point person during the visit.
As a host, you need to be familiar with all teacher requirements and complete the following tasks:
Before the visit:
Establish support with the school principal and teachers.
Identify a secure place to store about 30 bikes. The storage should be on the ground floor, and we must be able to lock it. You will need to coordinate the arrival and pick-up of the bikes.
Find an appropriate and available place for the students to ride their bikes, like a closed-off parking lot or park.
Create a schedule for the visit.
- We need a full day with a minimum of four teaching hours during the school day.
- We can’t go to schools with large scheduling gaps.
- We want to work with as many students as possible, but can only serve a range of grades in one visit (2-5 OR 5-8 OR 8-12).
- Each class should participate in the program at least three times during our visit.
- Students from your school’s afterschool program can also participate if it helps us reach new students we don’t see during the day.
Send us a draft of the schedule two weeks before our visit and a final version four days after that. If do not have schedules by these deadlines, we will fill your spot with another school.
Bikes are usually delivered on the Friday before our visit or on our first day. We will give you two days notice before the bike delivery.
Share our Teacher Requirements with all teachers who are helping with the program. While one or two people will "host" our program, all teachers who interact with our program need to know the requirements.
During the visit:
Introduce our bicycle staff to the principal and school nurse on the first day of the program.
At the end of the visit:
Give the waivers to one of the cycling instructors. We’ll work with you to schedule a pick up for the bikes. We will give you two days notice before the bike pick up.
Finally, complete our program evaluation.
Expectations for teachers
As a teacher who will be helping with the program, we want you to be aware of what we expect from you. That way, everyone understands how the program works and we can work together to make sure our visit runs smoothly for everyone.
Before the visit:
Hand out waivers to students ahead of time. Everyone that takes part in our program must have a signed waiver to ride bikes. Teachers are responsible for collecting and tracking completed waivers.
Ask parents if they want to volunteer to help. The more adults that are available to help, the better!
During the visit:
Our program includes an interactive workshop on the first day. This session should be held in a classroom (rather than a gym or outdoors), if one is available.
You must actively help with behavior and group management. Our instructors are experts about bikes, teachers are the experts about students.
A teacher must always be present with students on bikes, and this may mean hopping on a bike yourself!
You are responsible for responding to any emergencies. You need to be prepared in case of a crash and know the school protocol. Our instructors will have first aid kits on their bikes, but you are responsible for administering first aid and contacting the school or emergency services. You are also responsible for telling the school nurse, parents, and principal about any incidents.
Carry the waivers with you if we are riding away from the school. The waivers have the emergency contact information for each student.
We don’t mind rain, but if we feel weather conditions are unsafe, we reserve the right not to ride. We will work with you to determine if we should hold outdoor activities. For rainy days, we also have a number of possible indoor activities.
At the end of the visit:
Give the waivers to one of the cycling instructors.
Important forms for program hostsForms
More biking resources
For more info around biking and walking at your K-8 school, visit Massachusetts Safe Routes to School.
Learn more about the various programs offered to Boston-area youth
Summer camp on Boston Harbor Islands, may include biking
Boston’s annual cycling celebration in September
Mountain biking and other programming for youth