Doug Brown leads Trips for Kids Birmingham, a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring through bicycling experiences. Working with other organizations, Trips for Kids targets 10 to 15-year-old children in Birmingham who may not have easy access to enjoying the outdoors. The TFK vision is to use bicycling to prepare kids for success.
We sat down with Doug and asked him a few questions on the nonprofit and what it’s like working in Lakeview:
How did you get involved with bicycle education?
After 30+ years as an insurance broker, I was volunteering for Red Mountain Park and saw an article in American Trails magazine about Trips for Kids. They had approximately 80 chapters across the country and the main thrust was to get inner city kids on mountain bikes at state parks. I called Marilyn Price, the founder in California, and she encouraged me to start a chapter in Alabama. Things seemed to fall in place and the Birmingham mountain bike community was very supportive volunteering their time to get things rolling. The Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System, Oak Mountain State Park, the obesity and diabetes numbers and the generous reputation of the city were all positive contributing factors.
What’s your favorite area in Lakeview to ride?
Seventh Avenue and First Avenue South are probably my favorites. We would really like to see the Jones Valley Trail extended to Avondale and then to Rufner Mountain to divert bike traffic off of First Avenue South. We have been talking to Freshwater Land Trust about options to get the trail around the active railroad at Thirty Second Street. We have also talked to a City Councilman and a State Representative about repaving First Alley South, which runs from Thirty Fourth Street to Old Car Heaven. That short piece of road is not safe for anyone on a bicycle.
What’s it like working in Lakeview?
Lakeview is great and is really growing at a fast clip. It is so convenient to stop by one of the many restaurants to get a quick bite to eat and everything is right there. It is such a vibrant area and seems to only get better.
How has Trip for Kids impacted local children?
Since June of 2013, we have hosted over 550 riders at Oak Mountain State Park for a mountain bike rides. These are kids aged 10 to 15 who would not normally get an opportunity to experience this. We cover everything except transportation. In August of 2016, We opened the Trips for Kids ReCyclery at 3625 First Avenue South in the State Traditions warehouse. We take in “dusty not rusty” used bikes and refurbish/repair them for resale. We have the largest inventory of used bikes in the city and our sales support our other programs. We recently had four 5th graders from Avondale Elementary go through our first Earn a Bike Program. The curriculum consisted of 6 one hour classes on safety maintenance and repair. There were also 3 hours of community service completed at Christian Service Mission on a Saturday morning. When the kids were done they were able to pick out a bike, accompanied by a helmet and a lock. It was a great experience and thanks to Virginia Powell, Mark DiChiara and Julie Farmer for their input and contributions.
Complete this sentence: “If I were the Mayor of Lakeview…”
I would continue to promote biking and pedestrian traffic in the community. It would be a real coup to attract a Criterium to the Lakeview area as they have in Anniston. More street music festivals would be a definite plus and a “roaming cup” ordinance would make the area around the festival more appealing and produce revenue for local businesses.