Commuting is a big part of SF State’s culture. Students come from all over the area and use all forms of transportation to get to and from class. One form of transportation that seems to be least popular on campus is biking.
Power to the Pedal is one program on campus that encourages students to use bicycling as a form of transportation. They offer free bike repair services on campus every Tuesday and Wednesday at Malcolm X Plaza and every Thursday at the school’s farmers market.
The program began in 2013 and aims to help students with all their bike needs, at the convenience of their on-campus location. The program helps with maintenance tasks like adjusting brakes, tuning gears and fixing shifters. The program not only helps to repair SF State students’ bikes or free, but teaches students how they can fix bikes on their own. Their goal is to teach and provide bicycle maintenance while promoting the biking lifestyle.
SF State student Luz Juan volunteers with Power to the Pedal. She is a working student who enjoys volunteering her extra time to promote cycling.
She got involved with Power to the Pedal after getting her bike fixed by the program.
Since joining the program as a volunteer, Juan said she has been given a platform to raise awareness and help women of color, like herself, find fun, fitness and a practical means of transportation in cycling.
“It helps me as a cyclist myself to be able to promote bicycle awareness in a cultural way,” she said. “We want to promote cycling for everyone, not just for guys with fancy bikes. We want to be inclusive [and] to push more women and people of color to ride bicycles.”
In recent years, funding for the program has been cut due to the low bike traffic on campus, so the program hopes to revive student interest.
The organization tries to keep students interested with the resources it has. For example, the program will sometimes host giveaways for students with prizes being bike lights, water bottles and hand sanitizer.
Many students believe the popularity of biking has declined because of the high amounts of traffic in San Francisco. Juan, however, said a bigger reason biking has decreased in popularity lies more in students’ fear for the safety of their bikes while they are stored on or around campus.
“Sometimes people have expensive bikes and will ask us where they can store their bike [safely],” she said. “These are some of the reasons why the bike traffic fluctuates.”
Some SF State students believe that traffic is not a deterrent for students wanting to bike to school, contrary to popular belief.
SF State student Andrew Sanders, who bikes to school every day, does not feel that traffic is that dangerous around campus.
“In terms of the city of San Francisco, a lot of drivers are conscious of bikers on the side,” he said. “Out here by the school it’s pretty chill for the most part. I would encourage people just to try it out.”
Another reason students choose biking as their preferred method of commuting is because of health. SF State students who bike to school find that it helps them with time management and their health.
“I bike to stay in shape,” student Jacky Chiu said.
According to Power to the Pedal, biking has many positive benefits. In the long run it’s cheaper than a car to own and maintain, can cut commute time down, is better for the environment and can provide the user with exercise.
For students that can’t afford purchasing or maintaining a bike, Power to the Pedal offers resources around San Francisco for students to contact. The San Francisco Bike Kitchen is one of the organizations they like to connect students with.
It is a non-profit organization that began in 2003 and offers affordable ways to obtain and maintain a bike, including repairs.