Last Saturday we packed up a truck full of freshly refurbished bikes and headed out for our latest Bike It Forward event. Our destination was the Northridge Cooperative Homes in Bayview/Hunter’s Point with whom we have partnered before for these great events.
For those unfamiliar with our Bike It Forward program, we team up with local community-based organizations to refurbish and distribute bikes to San Franciscans who will benefit most from free transportation. This time around at Northridge Homes, we focused on youth residents and organized a ride afterwards to look at nearby bicycle infrastructure and parks.
The day started out with our volunteers preparing 20-plus refurbished bikes to give out that day. Kids from the neighborhood started showing up as we put the last-minute touches onto the bikes including lights and locks.
After we fit each kid for a bike and helmet, everyone gathered for a bicycle education course. As a part of every Bike It Forward event, we teach basic rules of the road, locking techniques, and signaling to make sure that all recipients have the knowledge necessary to go out and ride safely.
A new addition to our Bike It Forward program is a ride afterwards for all bike recipients to try out their bikes on their neighborhood streets. This is a great opportunity to fine tune the bikes and, more importantly, to highlight nearby bicycle infrastructure and destinations. With all of the kids excited about the new bikes, we set off towards Evans Street where we rode the bike lane while practicing our signaling.
Turning right onto Mendell Street, we ended up at Cargo Way and its two-way protected bike lane. There we stopped to talk about how different types of bike lanes affected how we felt riding in the street. When asked what would make the Cargo Way lane better, the perceptive kids pointed out the often broken fence and frequent potholes that need repair.
Despite the potholes, we made it to Heron’s Head Park with relative ease. There, we took in the beautiful views and reflected on the ride. All of the riders were surprised by how easy it was to get to the park, which many had only visited once or twice. All were full of smiles and planning to repeat the ride sometime soon.
We’re aiming to keep our momentum going through the remainder of 2017 and beyond, reaching as many folks as we can with the fun and freedom of biking. If you’d like to join one of our next Bike It Forward events, we welcome folks with or without mechanical skills to help us provide people across San Francisco the bikes and skills they need to start riding.