A month after a clash between Easton police and cyclists on Heritage Day culminated in a downtown shootout, the city this week hosted a cycling program for young people from York, Pennsylvania.
Brandt Kingsley, CEO and founder of Pedal 4 Peace, showed up on Tuesday with other cyclists for a few days of riding around Easton with local youngsters after being introduced to Easton officials last week by Louis Mazzante with Bicycling magazine, produced at the Hearst offices on South Third Street.
Kingsley outlined his organization’s youth-focused community development during an appearance before Easton City Council on Wednesday.
At the same meeting, the council approved a $15,000 grant for the Win a Bike program run by Community Bike Works in the West Easton neighborhood. The money was part of $1 million awarded for local projects and programs through federal block grants for community development the city received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I didn’t realize it was bike night,” Community Bike Works executive director Kim Schaffer told the board before giving an update on the nonprofit’s expanding initiatives. profit from Allentown to Easton.
On Wednesday, the city council also changed some of Easton’s laws to crack down on unruly behavior. One of the changes passed without discussion or dissent states that violators of Easton’s ban on skateboarding, roller skates, roller blades, bicycles or scooters during special events like heritage could be subject to a fine of up to $300.
Another prohibits the effective firing of consumer fireworks anywhere in the city, prohibiting their use on city streets, sidewalks, or property, including parks and public buildings, or on any property within 150 feet of a building or vehicle, whether the fireworks user owns the building or vehicle. Violations could result in a fine of $500 and, if repeated within three years, a fine of up to $1,000.
The third law change clarifies that city council members and city employees are protected when making public comments at council meetings against “personal, impertinent, profane, or libelous remarks,” with violators risking expulsion from council. meetings.
The special event fines came in response to Easton’s Heritage Day on July 10, a celebration of the July 8, 1776, reading of the Declaration of Independence in Center Square which was marred this year by a shooting in the block 100 of Northampton Street at night as thousands gathered to watch the annual fireworks display at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers. Although the shooter remains at large, city police chief Carl Scalzo, two days after the event, called a large group of unruly cyclists whose behavior officials say precipitated the violence.
Kingsley, of the Pedal 4 Peace organization he founded in September 2017, said he hung out with Easton cyclists he met in Downtown on Tuesday. He found that children were frustrated with the lack of places to ride – arguing that they got into trouble if they rolled on the sidewalks, in the street and in the city car park. But he found that young urban cycling enthusiasts seek out and welcome the structure. On Wednesday, he joined locals for a ride along the D&L Trail to Easton’s Bike Course at Hugh Moore Park, then to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail for a dip in Bushkill Creek.
“I think it’s those little victories that are huge life experiences that will not only help the Easton community, but also help these guys become leaders and contributing members of your society,” Kingsley said. “And those are things that can be passed on.”
Similar to Pedal 4 Peace, providing young people with exposure to mechanical bike repairs and organized activities, Community Bike Works is working to move to 921 Spruce St. in the West End, the group’s Schaffer said. She acknowledged that renovations were behind schedule, so the organization operates in Easton from Two Rivers Health and Wellness at 1101 Northampton St. But in the first year since moving to Easton, Community Bike Works has hired 111 local young people, 97% of whom have completed the Win a Bike program which teaches how to repair and ride bikes and allows the participant to receive their own bike, she said. Win a bike is the goal of Easton’s CDBG award.
“Once kids are involved in Win a Bike, that’s the start of their time at Community Bike Works,” she said, adding that students can go to their building daily and join teams of competitive driving that Kingsley said was so important to young people. York.
Community Bike Works also hosts a weekly ride at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays from the Westside Market on South 12th Street, Schaffer said.
Deepening community dialogue after Heritage Day, when city officials portrayed Easton police as racist by some of the predominantly black riders, city administrator Luis Campos said Wednesday that he had met with Promise Neighborhoods, based in Allentown, Lehigh Valley, on Tuesday and was continuing the meetings. next week with the Easton branch of the NAACP, city police and representatives from the Easton area school district – all as part of post-Heritage Day efforts to collaborate on improving the local environment for young people.
Home to a network of trails and a professional cycling race in 2021 and 2022 called the Easton Twilight Criterium, there is no doubt that the city is a cycling city. Kingsley, of Pedal 4 Peace, spoke on Wednesday about the power of organized outreach to local cyclists who are truly athletes, which they demonstrate through wheelies and other skills. Bringing them together through a structure has the effect of empowering and holding each other accountable, he and Councilman Ken Brown said.
“Everyone loves being able to have a place called home,” Kingsley told the city council. “And right now you have a group of athletes with no place to play.”
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to lehighvalleylive.com.
Kurt Bresswein can be reached at [email protected].