In 2018 Our Streets Minneapolis launched the Bicycle Connectors program, a new initiative to encourage more black women, indigenous women, and women of color to bike for transportation. Cindy Vue, our Bicycle Encouragement and Volunteer Coordinator, partnered with six local organizations serving black women, indigenous women, and women of color in Minneapolis.
Each organization received support from Our Streets Minneapolis to create their own unique program to encourage more of the women they serve to bike for transportation. Funding for the Bicycle Connectors program is provided through travel demand management funds awarded by the Metropolitan Council and administered by Metro Transit.
One organization we partnered with was Haven Housing.
Haven Housing provides a stable environment for women in crisis or transition to explore options for their future. Based in North Minneapolis, Haven Housing partnered with the Bicycle Connectors initiative to build a biking component into their existing health and wellness activities. Given that women stay with Haven Housing for an average of more than 7 months, staff are able to connect their clients with long-term programming, hoping to build lifelong habits.
“Many of our residents began to see biking as a self-care practice,” said Allison Skoglund, Program Director at Haven Housing. “When they were stressed or just needed to get away, they would take a ride.”
To build these habits, staff coordinated optional group activities promoting health and wellness through biking. Haven Housing partnered with Nice Ride Minnesota to provide bike share memberships to residents. Using Nice Ride bikes, residents explored their neighborhoods learning routes to parks, restaurants, and community services. More than just a tool to promote wellness, the bikes also provided convenient, low cost transportation.
“Our residents who participated in the program were able to experience an increase in their sense of independence,” said Allison. “By being able to travel more freely, and at a lesser cost, our residents weren’t as inhibited by many of the transportation barriers that affect some using public transit.”
Along the way, residents learned riding techniques and skills. With support through the Bicycle Connectors initiative, Haven Housing was also able to provide comfortable athletic shoes that would make it easier for participants to walk and ride a bike.
Thank you to Haven Housing, and all of the partners and riders who were part of Bicycle Connectors 2018! Are you interested in partnering with Our Streets Minneapolis in the second year of the Bicycle Connectors initiative? Click here for more information and to apply!