Pedaling Forward: Empowering Bayview Youth Through Biking

In partnership with the Rafiki Coalition, SFBike, and our Bike it Forward programming team has embarked on a journey to cultivate a vibrant bike culture among Bayview’s youth, focusing particularly on our Black and brown communities. Through this initiative, we aim to empower young people to see cycling as an easy and enjoyable mode of transportation and foster a sense of freedom and inclusion in the local community, while also reshaping perceptions of cycling and people who bike.

Our program spans ten creative workshops and “build-and-learn” sessions. These events aren’t just about learning the mechanics of bikes—though our introductory course based on the ParkTool School Curriculum is setting up our young riders with a good set of basic skills. It’s about building a deeper connection between the community and the built environment. We discuss road safety, the nuances of navigating the urban landscape, and we even touch on potential career paths in biking, city planning, and advocacy.

About halfway through our journey, we’ve already seen amazing growth. Our shed is up, filled with bikes and tools, and our lessons are in full swing. Just recently, we tackled drivetrain maintenance and even started the shop’s tool wall after an informative walk to the local hardware store. It’s all hands on deck—parents  and caretakers included, which has transformed our sessions into family biking adventures.

Despite the progress, challenges abound. Traffic safety is a huge concern in our largely industrial neighborhood, where large trucks and young people must coexist. Last week, one of our cyclists asked about the safety of crossing mid-block due to obstructed sidewalks. It was a teachable moment about visibility, safety, and the practical wisdom needed when cycling—like making sure big vehicles see you and are stopped if you have to cross their path.

In the coming weeks, our enthusiastic young bikers will volunteer at the Southeast Community Center’s Bike to Wherever Day energizer station. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to engage with other people who bike, and feel part of a larger community. Looking ahead, we’re planning rides to Heron’s Head and possibly even to the Embarcadero area, aiming to connect these young riders with diverse spaces and experiences throughout their city.

Our journey is far from over. With summer around the corner, we hope to find funding to continue nurturing this vibrant community of young cyclists, empowering them to navigate their city safely and confidently. Let’s keep pedaling forward, building a safer, more equitably connected San Francisco. Donate now to support this work.

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