Learnings From the 2021 Outride Research Summit

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The virtual gathering highlighted evidence-based ways to advance youth and community well-being through bicycling.

On July 28, Outride hosted its 2021 Research Summit, “Advancing Youth and Community Well-Being through Cycling.” More than 600 people tuned into the virtual, one-day event, which covered topics as wide ranging as measuring brain activation and youth development to programmatic models centering youth voices to biking as a social justice issue. A first-of-its-kind convening of individuals, researchers, community organizations, and educators, the event spoke to the importance of diversifying the next generation of riders and taking an active role in the well-being of our youth. 

The summit goals were three-fold:

  • Convene to learn the latest research and programs  
  • Engage Outride’s community in important discussions
  • Empower attendees to share resources and ideas

Researchers spoke to the power of bicycling to enhance attention, boost energy and increase social connection. Other speakers shared memorable and life-changing experiences, from riding bikes and empowering women in Afghanistan to intertwining youth programming with the cultures and practices of the Navajo and Zuni Nations. As part of a session on “Measuring for Change and Elevating Youth Voices,” PeopleForBikes’ own data manager, Rebecca Davies, presented on the Bicycle Network Analysis tool and how it can be used to pinpoint opportunities for safety improvements around schools.

With 22 people presenting around six different themes, there was an abundance of actionable insights and food for thought. Notable sessions touched on ways to build community around bicycling and how to promote access and safety through policies and programming. While we encourage you to read Outride’s comprehensive summit recap, here are five high-level learnings that emerged:

  1. Bicycling is a powerful activity for our bodies, brains, and overall well-being — and for creating social connection! 
  2. The needs and voices of youth, as well as caregivers, are critical to include in any design process. As Alex Baum of the Dutch bike organization BYCS noted in his presentation, “A city planned and programmed for infants, toddlers and caregivers is a city fit for all.” 
  3. Although there’s a gap in affordable and free youth bicycling programming in the U.S., there are many organizations doing incredible work in this area. Those doing it well focus on fun, access and cultural relevance to youth. They also enlist mentors, coaches and family to engage youth in bicycling. 
  4. Access to bikes, trails and programming is not equitable. There’s also a lack of data on what works best to alleviate the divide. What people agree on: Invest in program evaluation and connect with community researchers to push our collective understanding forward, promoting safe and equitable access in the process. 
  5. There’s a lack of centralized resources on how to develop youth bicycling programs. As a result of the summit, folks from many different fields came together to share information. This resulted in many great conversations and discussions, which Outride plans on synthesizing in one comprehensive resource list.

If you were unable to attend the summit in person, all six sessions are now available to watch online.

Read Outride’s recap of the 2021 Research Summit, “Advancing Youth and Community Well-Being Through Cycling.”

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