Johnson County Library and BikeWalkKC have cultivated a positive partnership for more than five years, educating patrons about how to maintain bikes and enjoy the health and environmental benefits of bicycling.
Now that partnership is blossoming into even more enriching programming, leading up to a day-long Women’s Bike Summit Sept. 30.
The summit, offered free of charge with the Library’s support, will feature activities, workshops and rides to encourage and enhance women’s bicycling experience and to help promote networking and a supportive biking community. Participants will gather in the large Carmack Community Room at Central Resource Library.
Participants are also encouraged to attend the keynote address 6:30-7:30 p.m. August 15 in the Carmack Room. Registration is required and is available here. The keynote event will feature Sarah Farsace, an inspiring advocate who has overcome physical challenges and is a tremendous mentor to her North Kansas City School District PE students.
The Library and BikeWalkKC have also collaborated on warm-up classes and events, which have resulted in short YouTube videos that people can revisit, highlighting bike handling skills, group rides and helpful technology.
BikeWalkKC has sponsored these summits in the past, but this will be the first one since 2018, and the first one that’s free of charge and hosted with Johnson County Library. Nick Ward-Bopp, a Johnson County Library MakerSpace facilitator who commutes by bike and helped forge the relationship with BikeWalkKC years ago, was delighted for this summit to come to fruition.
“It’s the culmination of all these educational programs we’ve been doing,” Ward-Bopp said. “It made so much sense to bring it here.”
Johnson County is an ideal summit location, Ward-Bopp said, because the county leads the region with 98 miles of already-built bicycle infrastructure and 315 additional miles planned. Meanwhile, e-bike sales are exploding, up more than 250 percent from 2021 to 2022, according to market research. Sustainability and healthy living are core Johnson County values, which the bike summit certainly supports.
Johnson County Library’s bicycle maintenance classes, offered in conjunction with BikeWalkKC in recent years, are quite popular. A bike fix-it stand outside Central Library is well used.
The Library is all about access, Ward-Bopp said, so empowering people through education to get bikes into their hands and to provide bike maintenance skills and information about safety and safe routes is all part of that mission.
Laura Fox, BikeWalkKC Director of Education, agreed the partnership has been excellent. “We have very clear communication,” she said. “We have set expectations and the Library is super easy to work with. I think they are setting the standard for resource sharing among all Libraries.”
BikeWalkKC’s Development Director, Amy Scrivner, noted that the organization’s membership actually grew 60 percent from 2019 through 2021, as people turned to biking and walking to cope physically and mentally during the pandemic.
“BikeWalkKC’s goal is to provide activities like the Women’s Bike Summit that encourage more people to ride so they see the benefit of supporting an organization like ours,” she said.
Fox observed that women often safeguard the health of a family, so the Women’s Bike Summit is a catalyst for getting even more women involved in this wholesome and fun activity. Men are very welcome at the summit, but it is geared to women.