Riding for Youth Leadership and Community Resilience

In late July, your SF Bicycle Coalition was thrilled to partner with youth organizations across the Bay Area on a ride through San Francisco. This ride highlighted the energy of youth bicycle advocacy happening both within our own city, and across the state.

The 8-mile ride, which ran from Civic Center Plaza to Excelsior Strong’s La Casa de Apoyo, sought to highlight the powerful work happening in and around San Francisco at the crossroads of youth leadership and transportation justice.   

Joshua Funches, 21, a council member of the National Youth Bicycle Coalition (NYBC) and organizer of this ride shared, “We are a group of young people just wanting to be leaders in the cycling community and we are doing it fully youth-led the whole way. We want to really emphasize the power of bikes and the power of young people to do that.”

We were joined by seven local community based organizations: Bicis del Pueblo, YBike, Rich City Rides, Cycles of Change, California Field School, and Excelsior Strong. 

Our  first stop on the ride was at the SF Bicycle Coalition’s office, where Program Coordinator Jo-Anne Burgess shared about our’s Bike It Forward program, which is currently preparing to distribute 60 bicycles at no cost to youth in Bayview-Hunters Point. 

Next, we headed to In Chan Kaajal Park at 17th and Folsom Streets, where Jessie Fernandez, Program Coordinator for Bicis Del Pueblo, shared the future space for his organization and the communities they serve:“…bikes are in service and part of environmental justice and self determination for communities of color. All those fun feelings [while riding a bicycle] of seeing the sights, smelling the smells, getting anywhere you want to with your own two legs — that’s agency. That’s power. That’s resiliency through health. So that’s at the core of Bicis Del Pueblo and so many other things that happen at PODER.” 

During our park visit, each participant shared why they choose to ride their bike.

For Dasha Yurkevich, 19, of youth bike america, “biking takes me places I never would have imagined.” Similarly, Malay Khamsyvoravong, YBike Associate Director added, “Bikes are awesome; bikes are super fun, bikes are liberation, and bikes are community.”

These and many other heartfelt reflections illustrate the ways that these community organizations seek to create strong communities where each participant, staff member, and volunteer is seen, felt, and heard.

The final stop of the ride brought everyone to Excelsior Strong, housed at La Casa de Apoyo. A former flower shop turned mutual aid space, Excelsior Strong provides nutritious food, vaccination resources, as well as a robust bicycle donation program for the Excelsior community. Nancy Hernandez, the space’s manager, shared with us how it came to be and its mission: “Even when the funding from the federal government ducked out for a whole month, we were able to continue and kept hustling and saying this project is important and this project should continue even as people push for things to go back to normal. We are so glad people got to visit the Excelsior Strong Casa De Apoyo.”

After finishing off tamales from Cafe Guatemalteco, participants rode off for the evening with huge smiles on their faces. 

This ride encapsulates values that the SF Bicycle Coalition shares with all the organizations that participated: healthy communities, collaboration, and safer, more liveable streets for all. In this spirit, we hope this ride leads to more rides and collaborative events like this in the near future!

If you or someone you know is between the ages of 13-24 and want to get more involved with the National Youth Bike Council, feel free to email Dave (dgajer@sfbike.org) or Malcolm (mjaramillo@sfbike.org).

Become a member and you'll improve your commute and get discounts at shops across the city.