The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

South San Francisco connects a community through bikes

Tamiko Huey
Students at Sunshine Gardens Elementary learn more about how to ride their bikes.

The ‘Every Kid Deserves A Bike’ (EKDAB) program is celebrating a year of providing bikes to kids by expanding into additional schools and doubling the number of bikes it provides.

The City of South San Francisco launched this program to connect children from lower-income families to outdoor experiences through biking, according to Tamiko Huey, one of the city’s management analysts and coordinators of the project.

Since beginning in May 2022, EKDAB worked with two elementary and middle schools in the City of South San Francisco, Martin Elementary and Spruce Elementary.  

After EKDAB identifies schools needing assistance, they work with several nonprofit organizations and other volunteers to provide not just bikes but also safety gear and education to the children. Huey explained that BikeMobile is one of the local nonprofits involved in the program; they help students with technical assistance and bike adjustments. 

One of the program’s most prominent supporters is the San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) through the Safe Routes to School program. This initiative provides education to schools to encourage walking and biking to school to promote a healthier community.

Nina Garde, the Project Specialist for Health and Wellness for the Safe Routes to School program, helped coordinate their partnership with EKDAB.

“SMCOE supports the Every Kid Deserves a Bike Program in several ways, including providing helmets, reflective safety gear, climate education, and bicycle safety educational material,” Garde said.

Other organizations like Decathlon and Safe Kids also contribute by gifting equipment to the schools, like bike lights, locks, and reflective gear. SafeMoves, a traffic safety education nonprofit, has organized an obstacle course for students to practice and learn crucial bike safety skills. 

After its launch, the program provided 150 bicycles, helmets, and locks to students of Spruce Elementary School and Martin Elementary School. The program has since expanded to include three more schools. 

“This year, the program will provide 350 new bikes, helmets, bike safety, and environmental training to five schools,” Huey said.

Garde explained that besides including more schools, the program hosts a new manager this year, ClimateCorps-Americorps fellow Tianny Zapata.

“Through the program, I am responsible for school and organizational outreach to raise funds and find sponsors. I am also responsible for including middle school students for the first time, as well as including a climate science education portion,” Zapata said.

They’ve also made climate science education available to the children through  The Marine Science Institute (MSI), who visit the schools ahead of bike distribution days.

Zapata explained that MSI helps the students understand human impact on the environment and highlights the benefits of using their bikes to decrease environmental damage from cars. 

“I hope this program creates a connection and increases the need for facilities to make the city bicycle-friendly and better for the environment with more walking and bicycling trails,” Zapata said.

Sunshine Garden Elementary School students utilize the “glam station” to decorate their helmets and bikes. (Tamiko Huey)

She emphasized that they hope students feel empowered through biking to live healthier lifestyles with more sustainable habits, inspiring others to do the same. 

The 2023 expansion of the project was mainly due to San Mateo County’s Measure K, funding from a half-cent sales tax on items. This tax supports or expands essential county services like educational programs. According to their website, county residents voted on and approved this measure in 2016. Between 2023 and 2024, it is expected to generate $110 million. 

Marshall Wilson, Measure K Communications Officer, explained that, for example, a half-cent sales tax equates to 10 cents on a taxable purchase of $20.

“The tax helps to fund affordable housing, parks improvements, services for those experiencing homelessness, and a host of other programs,” Wilson said.

Out of the revenue generated from Measure K, a small portion is labeled district-discretionary funds, and the Board of Supervisors votes to allocate these funds to support community programs. 

According to a document from a meeting of the Board of Supervisors, they gave a one-time grant of 100,000 dollars of Measure K money to the City of South San Francisco for the EKDAB program, sponsored by Supervisor Dave Pine. 

“I am proud to support the City of South San Francisco’s innovative program to provide not only bicycles but also the helmets and training necessary to provide a safe and healthy experience for the kids,” said Pine in a press release on May 3, 2023. 

According to Huey, the project initially got started during the COVID-19 pandemic. A local biotech company contacted the city looking for a volunteer team activity, and one idea was to build tricycles for preschoolers. 

South City Councilman Eddie Flores recalls those early brainstorming sessions.

“That got my wheels spinning. I realized every kid deserves to have a bike experience,” Flores said.

He and City Manager Mike Futrell agreed this seemed like an ideal way to encourage children to go outside and experience new things, as they had primarily been inside doing remote learning during the pandemic.

“We want to empower our community by providing youth with the means to play and get outdoors while addressing the equity issues presented with owning a bike,” Councilmember Flores said. “This program eliminates the financial barrier and equips students with everything they need to begin their active biking lifestyle.”

Students at Parkway Heights Elementary test out their new bikes with Principal Lopez and Council member Eddie Flores. (Tamiko Huey)

There have been some challenges in bringing the project to fruition. 

“The biggest challenge was the complexity of the program design because it was built on the six levels of the socioecological model to ensure that it was more than just a bike giveaway program,” Huey said.

This model is based on interpersonal, organizational, and environmental factors and incorporates these through the resources required for a child to safely ride a bike, as well as necessary education and other tools.

“The program also relies on cross-sectional collaboration between students, their peers, the environment, and the city. The Silicon Valley Bike Coalition recognized EKDAB as the 2022 Program of the Year because it equips children with the skills to ride a bike and create a community safely,” Huey said.

In the future, Councilmember Flores hopes to expand the program in the coming years to include every school in South City to continue honing the new skills kids have learned and fostering a sense of community. 

Nina Garde echoed this sentiment.

“I hope the students can build a connection to their community, live healthier and more active lifestyles, and feel empowered through bicycling,” Garde said. 

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About the Contributor
Samantha Crowther, Highlander Editor
Samantha Crowther is a junior at Carlmont in her second year of journalism. She enjoys interacting with her community and is excited to start editing for the magazine this year. In her free time, she likes reading, writing, and spending time outside, and is a member of the Carlmont cross country and track teams. To view her portfolio, click here. Twitter: @SamCrowther25

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
South San Francisco connects a community through bikes