The Rodriguez family, exercising together.
Paul Wellman

The Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition is leading a collection drive of bicycles outgrown by their riders that are sized right for junior high school students. Ed France of Bici Centro said he’s hoping to collect as many as 300 used bicycles to fix, retune, and ultimately distribute — free of charge — to junior high school students who complete a class teaching bicycle safety and street smarts at any of the South Coast junior high schools.

France is asking for people to make their donations on January 7, 2012, at one of three locations: Congregation B’nai B’rith in Goleta, El Montecito Presbyterian Church, and First United Methodist in downtown Santa Barbara. “Not that many kids ride their bikes to school anymore,” he said. “It’s kind of ridiculous.” National statistics indicate that only 13 percent of students ages 5 to 14 ride or walk to school compared to 50 percent in 1969. France said this trend is just starting to turn around, and he’s focusing on changing the habits of kids 12 to 14.

It’s not enough to just give them bikes, he said; they need to be taught safe street riding skills. Kids this age, he added, are intellectually mature enough to benefit from such instruction. For many years, bicycle riding has been dismissed as too dorky by many kids this age, but France pointed to the rise in popularity of fixed-gear bikes by high school and college students sporting the urban hipster aesthetic. Cosponsoring the drive are The Santa Barbara Independent and MarBorg Industries, which is storing the collected bikes while those taking the safety class “earn” them.


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