Building El Barrio Bikes: Lessons from a community bicycling collaborative

Online Publication Date:
December 24, 2021
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:

** Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 15.4, December 2021. All rights reserved.**

Background: Community collaboratives have been shown to be effective in changing environments and systems to promote health by facilitating and coordinating programs, services, and practices. East Harlem, a New York City neighborhood, recently experienced a growth in bicycling infrastructure and resources. However, community concerns raised about safety, equity, and inclusion highlighted the need for a coordinated effort to reduce barriers to biking. Objectives: To describe the formation of and activities of El Barrio Bikes, a community biking collaborative by providing examples of community engagement strategies, evaluation methods, and lessons learned.
Methods: A values-driven community engagement framework was used to form a multi-sector community collaborative to reduce barriers to biking in East Harlem. El Barrio Bikes conducted monitoring and evaluation activities to evaluate community engagement strategies used, to ensure that the group’s goals were being met, and to make improvements or adjustments when needed.
Results: The utilization of a community engagement framework was critical to the evolution of El Barrio Bikes from a group of individual partners to a model of shared leadership. Collaborative decision-making, extensive outreach efforts, and feedback surveys were time-intensive, but essential in in developing a sustainable and equitable partnership.
Conclusions: Carefully selected community engagement strategies were integral to the success of creating a community biking collaborative to promote biking. Collaboration between community stakeholders can strengthen community ties and power, which are key to implementing an effective strategy to reducing barriers to biking in East Harlem.