Columbia Refugees Learn Bike Safety

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COLUMBIA - PedNet and the Catholic Church's Refugee and Immigration Services teamed up Friday to teach bike safety to Columbia refugees. The students learned the basics of bike riding and the rules of the road for bikers. 

Dan Murphy, education coordinator of Refugee and Immigration Services said, "We're emphasizing safety: the right gear, wearing helmets, having their bicycle in good, working order. But also, the rules of the road are very important."

The class was free, and students will eventually receive a free bicycle, fenders, a rack for the back of their bike, lights, a lock, helmet and a flat repair kit for participating in the eight-hour class. 

Murphy took a similar class through PedNet more than a year ago, and thought it would be a helpful experience for his clients at Refugee and Immigration Services.

"Part of our mission is to give them the information to be successful here and also integrate them into the community. This kind of thing is really great because they're working with Americans and they make friends. And as a biker, I see my neighbors more. Cars are kind of impersonal," said Murphy.

Zosangpui Zo, a participant from Burma, was excited to receive his new bike.

"Yeah, for fun. I'm gonna ride with my kids, you know, my family," Zo said

Zo escaped from Burma more than three years ago. He said the military regime doesn't "let you do anything," and he likes living in Columbia. Zo said he plans to use the bike to ride to Walmart with his family. He said his friends plan to use their bikes to go to school and work.

Gina Overshiner, education director for PedNet, said the group hopes to help refugees "understand their role in traffic, how they can ride safely, visibly and predictably to make the roads safer the them and other users."

Overshiner said the class on Friday was through a new PedNet program called "Earn a Bike," where instructors work with low-income individuals to get a bike after an eight hour instructional class.

If you would like to make a bicycle donation to PedNet, there is an event planned at Walt's Bicycle Shop on July 9 to collect bikes. You can also email Overshiner at


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