SBici, Santa Barbara High School’s bike club and an off-shoot of the Dons Net Café, with community partner Santa Barbara Bike Coalition’s Bici Centro, is cranking up its membership and gearing up for an active spring.
This is the second year for the SBici Bike Club, and members are eager to get the word out to SBHS students about this grassroots club, supported by community partner BicCi Centro.
“The goal of the program is to provide a space for high school students to work on donated, recycled bikes, and to promote more bike riding in general,” said Byron Beck, parent volunteer and bike enthusiast.
The advantages of joining the club seem hard to resist. The club requires members to work on three donated bikes — from start to finish — meaning the three bikes are safe, fully functioning and ready to ride. Once a club member has completed three full tune-ups, he or she has earned a free bike. “Give a bike. Earn a bike” is one of the club’s mottos.
Along with earning a new bike, students also receive a free bike lock, helmet and bicycle safety training.
“Equally important to the new ownership of a bike is the fitness and lifestyle skills that bike riding promotes,” Dons Net Café faculty adviser Lee Knodel said. “Many of these kids use their bikes as their sole means of transportation.”
SBHS freshman Esteban, attending the Thursday club meeting for the first time, said, “I had no idea this club existed until my buddy told me about it. I think more kids would show up if they knew they could earn themselves a free bike.”
Edgar Lara, a recent SBHS graduate, has worked the past year with the club and has tuned up, fixed, oiled and lubed more than 12 recycled bikes. Lara now works at Smart & Final and uses the bike he earned for his transportation to and from work each day.
As busy as Lara is working full time, he still finds time to come back and volunteer with the club each Thursday afternoon. He says the idea is simple: “This is an opportunity to show a teen to stop wasting gas, save your money and ride a bike instead.”
No previous mechanical or bike experience is necessary. Coaching, bike mechanics and mentorship are readily available from fellow students and community adult volunteers who are committed to promoting more bike riding in Santa Barbara.
“I really enjoy being an advocate for bike riding, while at the same time mentoring high school kids,” Beck said as he adjusted the headset, demonstrating this technique for a new club member.
“The mission of the club is really simple: Bike riding is good for health and fitness, and good for the environment. We want to promote both,” said Ed France, a regular Thursday afternoon volunteer and director of Bici Centro.
Bici Centro works to promote communitywide bicycle safety, and aims to educate local youth about the proper and safe way to ride a bike. Their Pedal Power program is already in several local schools.
Youth-sized bikes being tuned up by the club’s high school mechanics this month will be donated to the Fourth Annual Sports Drive, a student-organized event that benefits the members of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara. Sophomore Dylan Carmody, a SBici Bike Club member and a Sports Drive organizer, said Boys & Girls Club director Kim Kjar is compiling a list of kids who have never owned a bike before. The Sports Drive hopes to be able to collect and rehab enough bikes to give a bike to every child on Kjar’s list this Saturday, the day of the Sports Drive.
Senior Bryan Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Dons Net Cafe, is eager to shift into gear and promote the SBici Club. Incentives for riding your bike to school and planning schoolwide bike-to-school day events are just two ideas on which the Dons Net Café and the SBici Bike Club are collaborating.
To donate a bike to the Santa Barbara Sports Drive, drop it off at Bici Centro’s new location at 506 E. Haley St., next to Muddy Waters, or at the pod located behind the Boys & Girls Club across from SBHS on East Canon Perdido. Click here for more information about the Sports Drive.
The SBici Bike Club meets from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays on the SBHS campus near the robotics workshop off Nopal Street.
— Sue Carmody is a Santa Barbara High School parent.