play Winner / 2021

Cycle Community Change

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by East Side Rider's Bike Club

East Side Riders Bike Club gives children in Watts an alternative to gangs and drugs by hosting COVID-safe group bike rides, purchasing helmets and used bikes for children living in poverty, teaching bicycle safety and repair, and working with government and community leaders to create safe bike travel lanes. We practice community service, which helps children build their confidence and self esteem while building a sense of community. During COVID-19 we've been feeding hungry families and community cleanups in addition to our group rides.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Children and teens who live in Watts and surrounding communities face unrelenting peer pressure to take drugs and join gangs. There are few alternatives to gang life, due to a lack of safe recreational areas and activities. Due to the COVID-19 school closures, children lost almost all of their access to recreation and socialization opportunities. Over 70% of families in Los Angeles do not have safe access to a park or live within a quarter mile of one. Families in Watts are food-insecure and need safe, inexpensive recreational opportunities and a sense of community. Children need bikes, helmets, training and supervision to be safe biking in a dense urban environment. They need to be supervised to ensure that safety guidelines are followed, including social distancing and the use of PPE. They need to meet other children who are not in gangs and they need community support to help them stay away from drugs. Children who are in gangs need to make connections outside of gangs.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

East Side Riders Bike Club (ESRBC) is more than a bike club because that’s what the community needs. It is not enough to teach a family in Watts how to ride bikes. They need a safe place to ride and community support to keep riding. Children and teens need to experience alternatives to a life of drugs and gangs. We work with the community to provide safe access for bike rides in Watts and surrounding areas. We organize group rides for children and their families, teach proper use of masks and other COVID-19 safety protocols, bike safety, and bicycle maintenance. We provide helmets, lights, and, whenever possible, bikes, if the parents can’t afford them. We incorporate community service into our rides to reinforce the concept of “giving back.” Giving back increases self-esteem and self-reliance, and strengthens the sense of community in an area that is often overlooked. Our Bike Education and Safety Training (B.E.A.S.T.) classes are open for the whole family to make biking easy and fun for everyone. It also saves families money on bike repair, which helps keep them riding. Our volunteer supervisors ensure that everyone rides safely, obeys traffic laws, and that everyone maintain a safe distance from each other. Due to COVID-19, people are using bikes to commute to and from school and work more than ever. They do not want to risk using public transportation. In the event of another COVID surge, bike rides will cease but we will continue to feed children and families.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

800
Direct impact
6,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Children will have more opportunities to make friends with other children who are not in gangs and not doing drugs. They will receive community support to stay in school and seek alternatives to gang life. Families will have COVID-safe way to get outside, exercise, and have fun. Watts and surrounding communities will continue to develop a sense of community through our activities. More people from around L.A. County will be introduced to the Watts community, strengthening outside participation in the Watts community and increasing opportunities to ride bikes safely here. More people will learn bike maintenance and safety, which increases family participation and ridership. Biking is a good alternative public transportation, especially with COVID-19, and more people will be able to commute to and from work because they will learn how to maintain their bikes, bike safely, and keep their bikes safe from theft.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

East Side Riders Bike Club tracks the number of people who participate in our group rides by the number of riders, the number of repeat riders, and, by observation, the level of enjoyment. We want to ensure that everyone feels safe and has a good time. We partner with other bike clubs and plan rides to different locations, so we monitor participation in those areas. By providing a variety of destinations and partnering with other clubs, we can provide a safe, enjoyable experience for the whole family. Participants can meet other families in the neighborhood and have a good time without spending a lot of money, which strengthens the community. We track the number of people we teach, the number of people who receive bikes, helmets, and bike parts. We track the number of people who volunteer in pancake breakfasts, community cleanups, and the number of community leaders and agencies that work with us to make Watts and the surrounding areas a better place to live, bike, and play.

Which of the play metrics will you impact?​

  • Walking and biking
  • Obesity
  • Youth sports participation

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to CONNECT
  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE