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This is How We Roll: USF Seniors Educate High School Students on the Ways of SF Cycling

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Gold isn’t just a color that shows spirit for our Dons and our 49ers here in SF, it’s also The City’s Bike Friendly Award level—that’s right, San Francisco is the gold standard in cycling camaraderie, according to The League of American Bicyclists. Five USF seniors are working towards furthering the cycling culture of San Francisco through their brand new Upward Bound Cycling Class for local high school students.

For their environmental studies capstone class project, seniors Tessa Farbstein, Tyler Doo, Alycia Cox, Sara Cortese and Daniel Dayani are collaborating with Upward Bound, a support program for low-income, first generation college bound students, and the SF Bike Coalition, a local non-profit promoting bicycle transportation, to teach the four-week-long class. At the end of the four weeks, each of the nine students will receive a free, freshly repaired bicycle, donated by the SF Bike Coalition.

“It’s a pretty neat bringing together of Upward Bound, USF students, and the SF Bike Coalition — it’s just this incredible mesh of groups that are coming together to make this course happen,” Farbstein said.

A big focus of the course, which runs from 9:30-12:30 on Saturday mornings, is on bicycle safety, but the curriculum is fairly interdisciplinary. Along with safety, the students will learn about the history of bicycling, bike parts, basic repair skills, economic aspects of cycling, environmental impacts, and more.

“It’s a very broad spectrum of bicycling,” Farbstein said.

To put it simply, the main idea is to convey the benefits of cycling to the 15-18-year-old young adults. The students are allowed to enroll in the cycling course, rather than a more academically focused course, due to their high achievement levels in school. The instructors want to help the students find the joy in cycling and maybe even inspire a lifelong dedication to the sport slash mode of transportation.

“Two years ago when I moved to the city, that’s when I started riding a lot. And I remember how scary and intimidating it can be riding in the city and that can definitely be a deterrent for people. I just want to tell people how fun it is and how useful it can be,” Dayani said.

“We ultimately want to empower them through biking and hope that they pick up a new lifelong habit of bicycling,” Farbstein explained. Several of the instructors are cyclists themselves, and have found that, just as they hope the students are, they are learning a great deal and becoming inspired by the class.

“We’re learning along with them. It’s an inclusive experience,” Dayani said.

“This class has helped re-inspire me to bike again. It’s been really nice, it’s a great way to get my day started. I’m a bit of a fitness nut…it’s really invigorating, especially going past cars,” Farbstein said.

The class will run through the rest of the semester, with the possibly of additional classes being added on to the end. If it continues to go well, the class could become a regular project for USF students as cycling education continues to spread.

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