WELCOME TO BELLE HAVEN BIKES

Belle Haven Bikes is a community hub and bike workshop space – built from repurposed shipping containers – designed to increase educational, employment and health outcomes for the youth of Menlo Park’s Belle Haven community. It is a project of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP).

Belle Haven Bikes serves three core purposes:

  • Act as a youth-led space where teens learn about bike repair, access training that leads to paid work, and help community members to repair their bicycles so they can access work and recreation;
  • Act as a community hub and gathering space at which youth can learn from adults, families can congregate, and young people can gather in a safe and productive setting;
  • Act as a vehicle to promote health and wellness by developing more ridership amongst children, teen and adult populations unfamiliar with the bike lifestyle

OUR STORY

bgcp_logoWhile boundless opportunity is certainly part of Silicon Valley’s core mystique, the kids and families served by Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula often live outside of the region’s predominant narrative. Many neighborhood youth remain disconnected from the educational and employment opportunities that surround them. Failing to see clear pathways to success, these youth often “drift-out” from formal education, leaving them with little hope after high school.

Belle Haven Bikes was created to give young people from Menlo Park’s Belle Haven community opportunities to feel as successful as the technology innovators in their own backyard. In 2013, we began to envision a space where youth connect through bikes and cycling with professionals from Silicon Valley, perhaps one day developing into mentoring relationships that act to increase their social capital. We dreamed of teaching all children from Belle Haven to safely ride bikes and adopt active lifestyles. We began exploring the potential for employment pipelines for our teens at local bike shops, including Facebook and Linked In, and we were encouraged by what we learned.

Bikes are important to many BGCP youth, and when we approached them about being part of our leadership team responsible for co-creating the model, they embraced the idea. For most of our young people, it was the first time they had been asked for their feedback about anything. Now, they were expected to embody what it meant to be a leader within the project. Their excitement was growing.

Others quickly hopped onboard to join the journey. The Mayor of Menlo Park quickly became an advocate. Bike Commission member Cindy Welton read about the idea and immediately joined the team. Triton Container’s Chairman Ed Schneider generously agreed to donate the shipping containers. Architects Sean and Maxine Kennedy from Studio SK offered their design talent pro bono. Facebook’s bike shop team donated bikes to some of our teens so they could participate in our first community ride. Leading designers and engineers with links to IDEO and Lime Lab enthusiastically stepped-up to facilitate several design charrettes through which youth could express their ideas—from spatial layout to program possibilities. With these ideas in mind, the project’s architects rendered drawings and collected feedback from the over 80 participants that rode in our first community bike ride.

BHB-logoToday, our youth are waiting for this vision to come to life in their own community—one that has historically struggled with violence and educational under-performance. In spite of the good will and donated professional services that our early believers have invested in the project, we need $100,000 to get to the finish line. We hope that you will join our ride.

PROGRAM ELEMENTS

DURING THE PILOT PHASE OF OUR PROJECT, WE ARE COMMITTING TO THREE PROGRAMMING STRANDS:

BIKE MECHANIC TRAINING

Weekly classes for high school youth.

UNITY RIDES

Monthly community bike rides created to nurture intergenerational relationships across all neighborhoods of Menlo Park.

SKILL-BUILDING

Opportunities to teach riding technique and safety skills to children, young women and anyone else who needs our support.