by Lee Benson
His gold bicycle shines in the sunlight, as Shaquan “Sip” Washington locks it outside of McClymonds High School. He is one of only a handful of students and teachers who ride their bicycles to school. “It’s not just eco-friendly, it’s practical,” says Washington.
Today is different: no lock, so the sophomore rolls his Schwinn inside and parks it in Officer Humphrey Garret’s office on the second floor. In West Oakland, where Bikes 4 Life founder Terry Coleman helps kids fix bikes on 7th Street and sometimes organizes Rides for Peace, bicycles take on a different meaning: they are cheap transportation but they can also be also dangerous.
Two bicycle riders were robbed near West Oakland BART on May 8 (and blogged about it).
Just six weeks ago, McClymonds student Frenswa Raynor was riding his bicycle near the downtown area when police mistakenly identified him as a robbery suspect. He was shot in the jaw.
And there are plenty of bicycle thefts. Just a few months ago, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon broke up a major stolen bicycle ring. Police say most of the stolen bicycles are sold at flea markets in Oakland.
So why do McClymonds students (and teachers) ride their bicycles to school? Necessity or style?
“I ride my bike to school everyday because my parents work and do not have enough time to drop me off at school,” says Washington.
For Rahquille”Roc” Jackson, a sophomore at McClymonds, “it’s way more convenient than walking.” He adds, “I live down the street.”
For Kelton Reynolds, another sophomore at McClymonds, it’s a way to stay in shape. “As a varsity football player, I look for ways to exercise and strengthen my muscles. This is as effective as me running the track around the football field.” Long term substitute teacher Michael Curry claims that ,”I ride my bike to school occasionally because gas prices nowadays are too high to drive to school everyday.”
Billy Stevens, a freshman on the McClymonds basketball team says that it has double benefits for him, too. “I ride my bike to school because I need to save money and I can get my exercise as well.”
Not all students agree. Luckie Lovette, a junior at McClymonds, prefers to walk. “It’s better exercise and I don’t have to worry about where to park it.”
Sustainable Future for Oakland: Students Care
by Anthony Beron
Oakland High senior Kasey Saeturn relies on the bus for the long trek to school every day. It’s already overcrowded and unreliable.
Her nightmare could end: an alternative plan known as Scenario 5 could make Oakland more “sustainable” while investing more money in buses to restore service to levels that existed in the past, she told at an environmental impact report hearing on April 16.
“Buses are overcrowded,” she said. She also supports “eco-friendly buses.”
Saeturn was one of several students to testify at the hearing about the Environmental Impact Report, which analyzed several alternatives to Plan Bay Area.
In their testimony, students supported Alternative 5, touted as “the environmentally superior alternative,” which would decrease greenhouse gases and particulate pollution that triggers asthma. It would also budget more money for affordable housing and buses.
The other students were graduates of McClymonds, Street Academy and Bentley high school, who are now attending college. The Rose Foundation’s summer program “New Voices Are Rising” had stirred interest in the plan.
Woody Little, a student at UC Berkeley who grew up in Rockridge, urged that any plan avoid displacing people from their current neighborhoods and create more affordable housing.
Plan Bay Area is a long-range transportation and land-use/housing plan for the entire San Francisco Bay Area. It includes the Bay Area’s Regional Transportation Plan (updated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission), and the Association of Bay Area Governments’ demographic and economic forecast.
This is the first time legislation is asking MTC and ABAG to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy, which will coordinate land use and transportation in the regional transportation plan. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light-duty trucks in the nine-county region. If the plan succeeds in getting people out of their cars, there would be more people riding buses and BART.
Pamela Tapia, a McClymonds graduate, told the story of her family’s displacement: that her mother now has to travel four hours to work and spends $60 a day. “The EIR fails to factor in the impact of gentrification on housing costs in neighborhoods that historically have been home to low-income residents.” Another McClymonds graduate, Devilla Ervin, talked about his foster mother having to move to Sacramento to find affordable housing.
Brenda Barron, who graduated from Street Academy and now attends San Francisco State, testified about changes in transportation: there are no buses near her home after 10 pm. She said that public transit should be more affordable and frequent and matters to younger people.
Another public hearing is scheduled in Fremont on May 1 at 6 pm at the Mirage Ballroom.
Posted in air pollution, asthma, campaign, changes, Commentary, community activism, commute, Debate, East Oakland, ecology, Education, Environmental Justice, EPA, leadership, opinion, Racism, School News, speakers, toxins, Youth
Tagged bus, EIR, environmental justice, Fremont, gentrification, MTC, Oakland, Plan Bay Area, public hearing, Rose Foundation, sustainability, transportatuion