Cinco de Mayo on the Bay: San Francisco Activists Promote Cycling While Raising Funds

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With events aimed at promoting health and healthy living, a group of Bay Area activists celebrated 5 de Mayo with various community activities. Among them, a gigantic “biciclethon” that lasted more than five hours through various parts of the city and in which more than 1,500 cyclists participated, mostly young people of various ages.

Clinging to her bike and wearing appropriate clothing, one of the organizers, Rose Richardson, said this is the second time she has participated in this “outdoor cycling. An event for children and young people… to prevent them from getting into trouble. We try to keep this activity accessible to everyone and we keep these tours at a basic level; in this way all levels, everyone can participate”.

From the Mission District, the cyclists headed to Golden Gate Park where the De Young Museum offered them a small snack and free tickets to visit the museum in the future.

The “biciclethon” caught the attention of passers-by who greeted the extensive bicycle caravan that occupied several blocks with outstretched arms. The group continued to the port of San Francisco making a spectacular stop at the well-known Fisherman’s Wharf tourist center, where they caused a pleasant stir among the tourists who frequent the area.

Roberto Hernández, a well-known social leader from the Mission neighborhood and founder of the Mission Food Hub, the parent organization of these events, said that this year “we wanted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in a different way.” . As he offered free sandwiches and burritos to attendees, Hernández emphasized that the pandemic has caused a lot of anxiety among young people.

“I met with 30 young people and children and asked them what they want to do. ‘We want to ride bikes!’… We managed to get over 1,000 bikes for these kids and so I took them for a ride.” Today that tour has become a healthy tradition. “We started with 30 and then it was extended to 80. So today being May Day we are going to celebrate with more than 1,000 people riding bicycles.”

Before starting the march, the cyclists gathered in front of John O’Connell High School where they were offered free breakfast and various stalls, mostly related to health and bicycles, were set up. There was José Alberto Pérez, a 19-year-old businessman, activist and cyclist whose natural juice business, Organic Frico Drip, is a favorite in the city. Pérez said he learned the art of juicing at small farmers’ markets. “Directly from the farmers in the fields where the vegetables and fruits grow,” he said.

One of the favorite juices is called “El Gigante Frisco” and it has orange, carrot and a pinch of turmeric (turmeric). While handing out free juices, Pérez said that “health is power. Nothing matters more than health and our way of being. Within the community we have to give everyone advice and knowledge so that we can grow together because we are in the same fight”.

“Through the sale of bikes we raise funds for the community,” said Mark Nicholas, who ran the Zack’s Performance Bikes booth. “I would never want to see a child in a store looking at a bicycle and his parents with sad faces because they don’t have the money. So I ask them: ‘hey, when can you pay? Hey, here it is, it’s free’. That is the goal. The prices of buses and trains are going up and many people cannot pay. We donate a lot of bikes because people need a form of transportation,” said Nicholas.

Roberto Hernández, social leader of the La Misión neighborhood and founder of the Mission Food Hub, and José Alberto Pérez, a young entrepreneur, activist and cyclist. (Fernando Torres / The Opinion of the Bay)

The event was organized to raise funds for the Mission Food Hub’s food program. According to Hernández, the event is of vital importance due to the rise in the cost of living and food. “When I started more than two years ago I used to buy 50 pounds of rice for 17 dollars, now I am paying 29 dollars for those 50 pounds. A gallon of milk costs you 6 dollars!… The price of things continues to rise. What the oil companies are doing is a robbery, using the war as an excuse to raise prices and the profit they are creating is a crime”, exclaimed the leader, also known as the ‘Mayor of the Mission’.

Hernández added that the center, located at 701 Alabama Street, delivers food to more than 9,000 families each week. Poverty is joined by the pandemic that has wreaked havoc in La Misión. “If you look at how many people have died from the virus, they are Latino. How many people are infected with the virus, they are Latino. And those who have had to go to the hospital, the majority are Latinos,” he concluded.

Events also included a show and tribute to Mexican Frida Kahlo and a parade and display of San Francisco’s famous Lowrider cars. The events included the participation of the organizations Culture and Native Art of the Americas (CANA), Carnaval San Francisco, Latino Taskforce, Mission Language and Vocational School, SF Lowrider Council and the BikeCoalition.

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