Scraper Bikes at Lakeside Park

Scraper Bikes at Lakeside ParkI’m in the Bay Area for a week visiting my dear friend S., who is recovering from major surgery. I was a bit nervous to be away from my bikes for that long, but thankfully S. has a bike, and she has graciously ceded it to me for the week during her many naptimes. I lived in this place for years, slowly earning a Ph.D., but haven’t been back since I picked up biking. It’s already like discovering a whole new city. Because that’s what it’s like to be on a bike–it’s about discovering, the little tiny details. So I hopped on the bike and headed over to Lake Merritt to see what I might find. I almost instantly ran in to a bike festival of some sort, where I snapped this picture. These are scraper bikes, tricked out and shined up with colorful spokes. The scraper bike movement is an Oakland original, and today they were out for Bike 4 Life: Healin From Killin, Bike Ride For Peace. I expected to see lots of bikes in the area, but these were an unexpected treat. Bikes are just frames with wheels and pedals to make a pulley system propel, but they can be used in so many different ways. The bay is made for bikes. I mean, there’re  bike lanes all over, and bike racks to go along with them, BART allows bikes most hours, and the 16th Street Mission station even has a dedicated rail groove thing-y to roll your bike as you walk down the stairs. But this is the kind of bike community you expect from a region known for its city composting program. Scraper bikes are something else: art, politics, and, of course, transportation in a city where getting around is way, way too expensive. Bikes can be a kind of social justice. After I left this gather, I rode to the museum and then over to Fruitvale to see old friends and their new baby. Then is was off to the city for drinks at a very, very old haunt with new friends. Yes, I think I’m going to like biking around here this week.

One thought on “Scraper Bikes at Lakeside Park

  1. Hey, check out this video we made over at

    Born in the streets of Oakland, scraper bikes have become so much more than just a colorful trend of tricked-out bicycles. Scraper bikes have become an Internet phenomenon via YouTube, a practical means of greening urban space, a social movement, and a rallying cry for young people organizing against violence in their community.

    Tyrone “Baby Champ” Stevenson, who styles himself the “Scraper Bike King,” says the bikes were created by Oakland teens who coveted but could not afford scraper cars, the souped-up sedans painted with bright colors and with rims so large they scrape the undercarriage. Scraper bikes are such a hit that many teens skip the cars and keep pedaling well past the age of 16.

    Last weekend, Stevenson organized the second annual “Bike 4 Life” ride to call for an end to violence in Oakland’s neighborhoods. “We’re trying to bring together a gun truce,” he says, “because a lot of people in our community are dying from guns.” This Streetfilm features scenes from the ride and more from Stevenson about the movement he helped launch.

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