Youth Bike Program Needs Volunteers
by Robin Havens

On a cold, rainy Tuesday at 4:30 pm tucked away in the balcony of the Joe Lee Recreation Center in Hunter’s Point, there’s a whole lot of bikin’ going on. Cortez is throwing a pair of nobbies on a gray Raleigh, Jamar is rebuilding the bottom bracket of his cherry red bike while his little brother Rico (who recently painted his BMX powder blue) holds the light. Alvin, Calvin, and Sydney are learning how to fix a flat. What is all this bike fixing? The Safe Haven Bike Program!

Tony removes a pedal as Rico looks on at the Safe Haven Bike Program. Teens earn “bike-hours” as they learn bike and life skills. PHOTO BY LEAH SHAHUM
The year-old program is one of many at Safe Haven, the crown jewel of the newly-overhauled SF Juvenile Justice Program. Administered by the Delancey Street Foundation, with help from the SFBC and SLUG (SF League of Urban Gardeners), the Safe Haven Bike Program offers teens training and sometimes even a paying job (last summer, a program graduate, Kendrik, worked as an apprentice at the Bike Hut on the Embarcadero).

Modeled after a NYC program, teens earn "bike-hours" for time worked in the shop. When enough hours are accumulated, they can use them to purchase a bike and take it home.

Participants learn bike maintenance skills, the value of hard work, and saving. After 12 hours they can get a decent mountain bike. For six hours more they can ride home a shiny, chrome BMX.

The Bike Program operates on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and is looking for volunteer mechanics (or those mechanically inclined) to teach. Also, we will be leading rides this summer and are looking for chaperones. If you are interested in either, call Robin at 415-695-7950.