BCB: Brick City Bikes (Newark's Bike Sharing Program)
Changing the world one ride at a time.
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Abdul Instagram: ab_9000_
Hakeem Instagram: uplife_hakk
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Idea (hoping to get started in the future)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
Being high school students in an urban community, like Newark, we realized how challenging the commute to school is for many students. We live 2 and 2.3 miles respectively from our school, and we rely heavily on public transportation. The public bus, unfortunately, is flawed. It does not always run on schedule and is sometimes unable to pick up passengers, ultimately resulting in student lateness.
Talking with our friends, we realized that these challenges were not exclusive to us. Thus, we began to think of possible solutions. After sharing our experiences from some of the colleges we visited, we realized that both colleges had bike sharing programs that eased the commute around campus. We thought: what if we adopted a similar bike sharing program here in Newark? Our schools were within biking distances, and this program would provide an alternative to the public bus system.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
In Newark, tardiness and poor attendance rates are prevalent in high schools. When getting to school is so taxing, it is easy to want to stay home or come late. If commuting to school became easier, attendance rates would go up and tardiness would be mitigated. With a bike sharing program, a more sustainable community would simultaneously be encouraged as well as personal fitness.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Newark is divided into 5 wards (East, West, Central, South, North) with 12 public high schools. We plan on providing students the opportunity to borrow bikes. Due to weather conditions, we plan on giving students bikes to use during two terms: September to November, and March to June. The students would receive a bike, a lock, and a helmet by giving a down payment of about $20, which they will receive back at the end of each term. This is to ensure that the bikes are properly used, and this places a responsibility on the student. Additionally, to make riding bikes to school easier for students, we plan on working to create bike stations at each school. This way students will not have to worry about bike security.
Further, we will push for Newark Public Schools to subsidize the bikes which we hope will be sponsored by a Newark company. We plan on having the company name displayed on the bike in order to convince them to want to sponsor the bikes.
Starting off with a few hundred bikes is our plan in order to “test the water”. If the plan works well, with a few adjustments, our goal is to expand this bike sharing program as much as possible to reach the needs of Newark Students.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
If high school students were to take full advantage of this bike sharing program, their school tardiness will be minimized. A student who is now able to ride a bike, avoiding traffic, avoiding packed NJ Transit buses, avoiding long walks, will now be able to make it to their first period class on time. This will ultimately increase their chances of receiving a better grade in the class, which is statistically proven, just by arriving to class on time.
Next, a student who is insecure about their weight or interested in working out can now work out during their commute to and from school and other times as well. Riding a bike is a very healthy and effective workout on top of the fact that it is also something fun to do.
Finally, a student who doesn’t want to drive to school or would rather ride bike instead of driving out of care for global health now has an outlet to do so.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
The Newark Public Schools (NPS) has a system where students who live 2.5 miles or more from the school are eligible for free bus tickets, while those who do not are forced to find their own way to school. This is a flaw that has yet to be addressed by NPS. Many children are habitually late because of this.
The difference between the current tactic and this project will be that every student will be eligible for this program regardless of the distance their home is from their school. Also, they do not have to worry about collecting or losing bus tickets, crowded buses, or far bus stops.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Although our project is at the idea stage, we plan to know that we are making a difference by selecting a random sample of high school students from Newark and asking both the school and the student how they think the bikes are impacting their high school success. Additionally, we plan on asking schools for their attendance rates to see how they have improved to ensure that we are truly making a difference.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Our hope for the bike sharing program is to eventually expand to the rest of the city and even farther down the road expand to the urban areas across the country. We recognize that all of Newark can benefit from such a program and not just the high school students. Potentially, with the support and partnerships of prominent Newark companies like Prudential or Audible, we hope to make transportation more efficient for all residents, since many people rely heavily on public transportation. At the same time, we hope to promote a more sustainable lifestyle in our city as we realize climate change is becoming a threatening issue. This is how our city can address and help the problem in a way.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
Currently, we have support from students from high schools all over Newark who champion our idea. We pitched our idea to both students and teachers, and they are willing to help execute our project.
We plan to present this idea to city officials in order to gain as much support as possible. We are confident that once we gain support from city officials, we will be able to garner additional financial support from Newark companies like Prudential, Panasonic, Audible, and others, as they are very involved in the city’s development. Finally, we hope that we will get the support of T-Mobile and Ashoka so that we can sustain our project and present to the city a realistic project.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
We understand that in order to make substantial, lasting change, partnering with other changemakers is critical. For this reason, we have already engaged family members and friends who are willing to help this project be realized. After providing an initial plan for our bike sharing program, we sat down with our friends and families and told them to challenge our idea and ask us questions. In doing this, we were able to create a more efficient plan that we believe can be executed; we were also able to acknowledge the different perspectives and approaches from different people.
In addition to the engagement we have already done, we plan to engage with the Aspen Institute to execute the project. Being a part of the Aspen Youth Leadership Fellowship, I understand that Aspen has a commitment to making change in communities. I know that if I pitch our idea to the program, we will immediately be provided with constructive feedback and the necessary support. Working with other changemakers will make our project more achievable. In short, we know that change is not a singular effort and that, with help, Brick City Bikes will be a success.
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