Positive Spin

Positive Spin Summer Dreamers Academy students with volunteer James Simkins

Positive Spin Youth Bike Program

Positive Spin is Bike Pittsburgh’s youth cycling program that teaches youth the skills they need to safely explore their neighborhood on two wheels and become lifelong cyclists. It provides the opportunity for youth to experience the freedom granted by a bicycle, improves self-confidence, teaches self-reliance, and integrates healthy activity into everyday life.

Positive Spin is a free after school bike program that teaches youth the essential skills they need to safely operate bikes and navigate city streets, trails, and parks. The program pairs adult mentors with youth to complete bike rides, advocacy projects, and learn basic maintenance.

The result is empowering youth to play active roles in their personal health and the vitality of their communities. This program currently serves Pittsburgh’s Arsenal 6-8, Schiller STEAM 6-8, and Obama Academy 9-12, as well as providing auxiliary support to other program sites starting their own youth cycling programs.

Positive Spin in Action

Youth are capable of achieving great feats. During the 2017 Positive Spin Program at Summer Dreamers Academy (Pittsburgh, PA) staff and riders collectively rode 6200 miles, which is the approximate distance from the Equator to the North Pole.

In prior years, students completed daily rides of 8-16 miles per day; biked to neighborhood parks, libraries, and museums; completed 30-90 mile culminating trail rides and camping trips; collaborated on multimedia projects; wrote letters to the mayor and city council, and have met with city officials.

The real-world experiences and challenges students face while completing Positive Spin activities give practical experience while teaching problem-solving skills, perseverance and hands-on learning. Each year the program has continued to develop and refine itself. The real-world experiences and challenges students face while completing Positive Spin activities give practical experience while teaching problem-solving skills, perseverance and hands-on learning.

Start your own youth program with the Positive Spin toolkit

Get a copy of our Positive Spin Toolkit — a tried and tested guide which Bike Pittsburgh developed to bring innovative youth cycling programming to your community.

Help us continue the legacy of Positive Spin by adapting the program to fit the needs of the youth in your community!

Check out the Positive Spin Toolkit

Any Questions

If you have any questions about this program, please direct them to BikePGH’s Education Manager Julie Mallis (Email: positivespin@bikepgh.org).

Mona and Roscoe (pictured left to right) recently earned their bikes though BikePGH’s Positive Spin earn-a-bike program this past fall.


The reboot of BikePGH’s Positive Spin youth cycling program in 2016 ushered in many updates to the curriculum. This update came with a renewed focus to meet the needs of young people aging out of foster services.

Starting with a BikePGH partnership with ACTION-Housing at My Place, we were able to implement a realigned curriculum and provide brand new bikes and commuting accessories for graduates of the Positive Spin Earn-a-Bike program.

The Positive Spin update now serves 412 Youth Zone, providing safety training and high-quality bikes to some of the most vulnerable young people in our city. These young people are at a crucial stage in their lives; on the brink of adulthood, they are in great need of building a stable life but need support and a strong foundation in order to do so.

Hear directly from a participant who earned a bike:

I participated in the bike Pittsburgh program through the program that had available to the youth of the 412 Youth Zone. I’ve been riding a bike since I was four, so the idea of someone teaching me the fundamentals of bike riding seemed redundant. However, I found that some of what was taught was actually really useful and not common knowledge. Before, I had sparingly, if ever, used the bike turn signals, and never really had a concrete understanding of which one was which.

I learned that I made everyone on the road safer and mitigated my liability in a potential accident by using them. They emphasized the importance of a helmet (which according to them, exponentially increased my chance of survival in the event of an accident resulting in head trauma). They were conscious of the fact that we were not kids, but young adults, and treated us as such.

All of the instructors were personable, patient, and kind; especially the program manager, Julie. We went on a couple bike rides, and I discovered paths that I had not previously thought of taking or even knew existed. They showed me how much more secure a U-Lock was over a cable one. No one is taking a bolt cutter to those things! Some of them are even made of titanium!

We had fun and the staff made the class a great environment to be in. I would definitely recommend Bike Pittsburgh to the next person. It’s easy, fun, and constructive way to earn a bike.”  -Breon

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