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New Bikes Open Up a New World for Kids in El Monte, Calif.

The residents of El Monte, on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, Calif., have a fantastic recreational resource in a developing Emerald Necklace of trails surrounding the city.

When complete, the Emerald Necklace will be a 17-mile loop of parks and greenways connecting 10 cities and nearly 500,000 residents in a dense urban environment, providing a desperately needed facility for communities suffering from high rates of obesity, asthma and a lack of recreational opportunities.

Already, residents of all ages have been making the most of the completed sections.

The Kids Campus Youth Center in El Monte this year decided to make the trail a focus of their summer program, with their first ever Bike Camp. With a grant from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and the Coca-Cola Foundation, the center was able to buy 20 new Fuji Bikes to allow the kids to get out and about on the Emerald Necklace trails.

Bike Camp opened with a bike safety clinic hosted by a certified instructor to make sure everyone knew how to stay safe on two wheels.

"Pretty soon, the Bike Camp members were telling staff when we weren't following the rules," says Steve Schweigerdt, manager of trail development for RTC's Western Regional Office. "It was great to see them setting such strong examples."

The camp members set out for Santa Fe Dam recreation area and Whittier Narrows on most of their rides, but they were soon eager to explore farther afield. Keen for some new biking challenges, the group was able to organize some more intense mountain bike rides with rangers in the Santa Monica Mountains.

"Now, when the youth center needs to run errands down the street, the kids are asking, 'Can we take the bikes?'" says Schweigerdt. "It is terrific to see that progression, from riding for recreation to using a bike for other daily needs."

Like many urban areas around Los Angeles, however, the streets are often not safe for riding. So Schweigerdt and RTC will be working with the bike club to start advocating for the city of El Monte to write a bike plan, and to create safe bike routes to access nearby trails from the youth center.

Photos courtesy of Kids Campus Youth Center.


Posted Tue, Oct 11 2011 6:00 PM by Jake Lynch


Steve Schweigerdt (RTC) wrote re: New Bikes Open Up a New World for Kids in El Monte, Calif.
on Wed, Oct 12 2011 11:54 AM

They had a great time this weekend at CicLAvia too!  Way to get out there Kids Campus!


Noah wrote re: New Bikes Open Up a New World for Kids in El Monte, Calif.
on Thu, Oct 13 2011 10:21 PM

Dude, that is awesome!!!


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