It may have all started with Recycle-A-Bicycle—a bike advocacy and awareness program—and two of their interns on a bus, but after three years, two successful conferences, and a healthy boost of inspiration from The New School, the organization’s national Youth Bike Summit now stands on its own two, nonmotorized wheels. The two interns, fresh from an annual League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike summit in 2010, conceived a conference dedicated to educating the youth on cycling and advocacy. Since then, the idea has attracted a national following. On February 15-17, The New School will host the program’s third annual bicycle conference, which will bring together more than 500 students, educators, and advocates from across the country to inspire a new generation of biking activists. The three-day event includes presentations from Parsons’ urbanBIKE initiative, a variety of workshops, 15 interactive panels on bike safety, and information sessions on building bike education programs, sustainability, and recycling.
“I think cycling is the great unifier on this campus,” said Jane Pirone, assistant professor of communication design at Parsons and the co-organizer of this year’s summit. “It draws everyone in and crosses all boundaries—between university divisions, students, professors, and all of New York City.”
For the past two years, Pirone and the students in her urbanBIKE courses—a Parsons studio that uses the bike as a platform for research and design in sustainable urban development—have been gearing up for this weekend’s conference. The conference will showcase several student projects and designs that examine the bicycle’s central role in the future of urban transit. The goal of urbanBIKE is to use design as a tool for social change and sustainable development in cities. Projects from the semester-long studios include communication campaigns to promote urban cycling culture, designs for cargo and commuting bicycles, apparel and wearable technology, and bike safety programs.
“The bike is a great tool to use to talk about issues of conservation, sustainability, transportation platforms, health and more,” said Pirone. “The Youth Bike Summit gives us a way to connect with the university and the public, get them involved, and start brainstorming solutions to problems of social justice and the future of urban development.”
The conference is organized by Recycle-A-Bicycle, a program that focuses on cycling as a means of youth career and educational development. Recycle-A-Bicycle offers workshops sponsored by The New School, the New York City Department of Transportation, the Museum of the City of New York, the Ali Forney Center, and other organizations. Guests headlining this year’s convention include keynote speaker Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia. As mayor, Penalosa quintupled his city’s bike paths by initiating one of the world’s most comprehensive cycling transit networks.
Admission is free to New School students, faculty, and staff. For all others, conference tickets are available for purchase here. The summit will be held on Friday, February 15 to Sunday, February 17, at locations throughout the New School campus. See this year’s conference schedule here. For more information, email Pasqualina Azzarello at firstname.lastname@example.org.