Dodging in and out of a crowded 19th Avenue can be a terrifying experience for a bicyclist. There are buses, trains, cars flipping U-turns and college kids and high schoolers all sharing the roads and sidewalks. The organizers of the “Sweet Ride” exhibit want to show the campus the benefits in ditching your car or monthly Muni pass, and hopping on a bike.
Curator Carolyn Ho and organizers Sharon Daraphonhdeth and Cameron Bingley hosted the opening reception “Sweet Ride” Thursday, April 17, in the Cesar Chavez Student Center, which was funded by the Greenovation grant supporting universities sustainable-related projects.
“The idea for the exhibit came from seeing a need to increase bike ridership on campus,” said Bingley. Being that SF State is a commuter university, they wanted to have students know there are other ways to commute to the campus that aren’t reliant on public transportation.
The white walls of the Cesar Chavez Center’s Student Gallery, filled with the warm glow of lights, invited students in to enjoy the “bike mixer” smoothie bar, a DIY bike jewelry booth and photographs from Bike East Bay and SF Bicycling Coalition.
Members of the two organizations were on hand to show the community events from the past year and an interactive bike map for bikers to mark out their routes with different colored strings hung in the background, while attendants were entertained with live indie rock music.
Students were given the chance to enter a raffle to win two donated bikes. The first was a refurbished bike created by SF Yellow Bike, a non-profit, volunteer-powered community bicycle shop, and was won by Joy Querida. The second was a Doppelganger brand from Japan, won by Crissann Branchromb.
Melanie Lindow, a senior English major, who came to enter into the raffle, said “I’m surprised how big the biking community of people is and how they want to bike together.”
The night continued with speaker Chris Carlsson, co-founder of Critical Mass, a monthly mass bicycling ride that takes place on the last Friday of each month in cities around the world. Discussing with students about “Bicycling’s defiant celebration: an irresistible invitation.”
Formed in 1992, Critical Mass was an idea that Carlsson and a number of friends who wanted to ride their bikes home from work together and establish new friendships, according to Carlsson, who has been biking since 1979.
Bennett Marko, a sophomore music major, heard about the exhibit though word of mouth. “I knew SF had a big biking community. It’s cool because it reminds me of the biking community in Los Angeles,” he said.
The night wrapped up with speaker Ana Bel of La Loba Loca, a member of the Masociclistas and Multicultural Communities for Mobility in Los Angeles, and a discussion titled “Navigating the streets: a talk on bikes, gender, DIY, culture and race.” Bel’s talk aimed at educating students on the social justices and rights of bikers of minority groups and sexual orientation.
Daraphonhdeth said she and Bingley want to focus on biking organization advocacy, lifestyle and community, as well as plan on launching a “Power to the Pedal” bicycle fix-it station on campus in coordination with the Bike Barn already on campus in the fall. The exhibit will run until April 25 in the student center.