Fall Into Biking This Autumn In Newark

This three part series will feature four biking groups who are not only bike riding but raising awareness of some kind.

Part 1 features two biking groups brining attention to tough issues Newark residents, particularly young people and women are facing. Parts 2 and 3 will feature biking groups trying to make Newark a more bike-friendly and accessible city for all.

       I like social justice and I also like biking, but I am not one of those riders who enjoys advocating or riding alone and whenever I can avoid the streets if I have to ride solo. Sometimes, though I am I alone in advocating for what I believe in. Sometimes I am not. That’s why I excited to learn about the upcoming group rides that are happening starting September 30th and lasting throughout the month of October.

On September 30th Girls On Bikes is leading a tour of Central Ward celebrating the green spaces of Newark. Meet up is at 275 West Market Street, Newark at 1030am. It’s not just for girls.

In 2016, Kala La Fortune Reed founded this organziation. A total of four board members and and 15 representatives dubbed, Biker Babes make up this organization whose mission “is to build up a generation to create a culture a of unstoppable women.” When I asked how, Kala explained to me that these community they serve is beset by many obstacles and adversities such as poverty, no access to healthy food and the inabilities to purchase bikes. This means “girls and young women are not participating in recreational activities in the public.” The organization, seeks to remedy that by “curat(ing) many programs for middle school to college students located in Essex County of New Jersey.” Kala shared that they “form workshops and host events in our community to have a hands on influence on girls and young women in order to tackle the adversities they face.”

Another biking group here in Newark, is The Down Bottom Bike Crew. DBBC was founded by members Enok Gavilanes, Jessica Valladolid, and Christian Rodriguez. They have 15 members and are currently based out of the East Ironbound with aims, “To empower young people to become civically engaged, two wheels at a time.”

How you ask? Christian Rodriguez of ICC explained, “DBBC is a mentor-ship program involving participants (youth aged 8-17), as well as facilitators from Ironbound Community Corporation and volunteers/ bike enthusiasts whom reside in Newark or are friends of the neighborhood. Participants come together to learn about bike mechanics, repairs, and bike safety.  The Bike Crew participates in bike-a-thons as well as ride-alongs in and around our City of Newark. The Crew has also been involved in the push for the preservation of public housing in Newark since most members reside there.

DBBC aims to create a safe space for young people to create and share a dialogue regarding their life experiences within their neighborhood and their vision for the future of their own community. Biking together creates a stronger sense of community as well as social-emotional health, repairs are driven by a framework of project-based learning, and our bike-a-thons will challenge and expose the crew’s understanding of Public Health as well as Environmental Justice within their community.”

Rodriguez acknowledges those who have donated whether in their time, repair tools and bikes.