If there's such a thing as bike karma, Kenneth Walker has it. Last summer, the urban cycling advocate woke up to find a pair of shiny new bikes on his front porch, with nothing but an appreciative note from an anonymous supporter encouraging his work with inner-city kids. This week, the cycling fairy struck again. Walker received an unexpected phone call from New Jersey-based Sanofi-Aventis, a pharmaceutical company with 16,000 employees nationwide.
This week, one of its therapeutics divisions was meeting in Kansas City and, as a team-building exercise, the group built a bunch of children's bicycles. Diana Felts, an official at the conference, says she put in a call to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to see who might benefit from a small fleet of kids' bikes.
A few hours later, Walker's phone rang.
In the six months since he started the Urban Kansas City Community of Cycling, which prompted the anonymous doorstep donations, Walker has been tapped by Mayor Mark Funkhouser to serve on KC's Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee and dubbed a Missouri State Ambassador by the League of American Bicyclists. Most recently, he's been working with the Scuola Vita Nuova charter school to prepare a class of seventh-graders for a 225-mile trip over the Katy Trail this summer.
Needless to say, Walker can always use some extra bikes.
So Tuesday evening, he gave a short presentation to a room of 400 pharmaceutical experts. Felts says the crowd was impressed. So was Walker. "I showed up at the Marriott, and I was completely overwhelmed by the number of bicycles," he says.
The timing is right. Walker says he's planning to start youth cycling clubs that would have their home base at area libraries. "Our main barrier has been purchasing enough bikes to be effective," he says. These 17 may be a start.