East Side Riders Bike Club keeping kids safe and active during COVID-19

The East Side Riders originated almost 13 years ago and have since made a name for themselves.
WATTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- One organization has come up with a solution to keep kids safe and active.

For about two hours a day, Monday through Friday, kids are able to grab their masks and hit the streets with the East Side Riders Bike Club in Watts.

Like most students across SoCal, these kids have been confined to their homes for virtual learning.

"Everyone knows the East Side Riders. And when we first started, we had everybody tell us that we should change our name, sounds like a gang, but we stuck to it," says John Jones the third, president of the bike club.

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The East Side Riders originated almost 13 years ago and have since made a name for themselves.

They have not only provided tens of thousands of free meals to the community during the pandemic, but they have also shown effort to bring kids together in a safe space to learn how to ride bicycles in the streets.

"I think it's like really fun. It's like a nice activity to get outside during quarantine and COVID, but still stay safe," says Sharvonna Brown, a member of the bike club.

Jones explains the bike club serves a bigger purpose behind the free bikes and safety courses at the park. It also helps kids stay out of trouble.

"We're not saying we're fighting against the gangs, but we are trying to help keep kids out of gangs. So if we keep them active and their minds busy, we give them a better probability of landing a job later on in life," says Jones.

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A study finds 17% of families surveyed from South LA, Watts and Boyle Heights have no internet at home. Many students could be left behind due to technology inequities.

The bike club continues giving back to their community through donations from family, friends and nonprofits. The club's most recent grants have come from big corporations, like Nike and Starbucks.

"We help advocate for safer crosswalks, safer access points to crossing, and lights to go up, flashing beacons to go up in the community so people can have a safer trip crossing the street and riding bikes," says Jones.

Kids are really learning so much more than the rules of the road for biking. They are learning to repair bikes, too. One mother shared that her child took their bike apart to fix it and got the job done.

"We can get all these kids rolling together, riding bikes, growing up together and just having a peaceful community. That's one of the things that I really, really dream for this community and that's what we're working hard for here at East Side Riders," Jones said.
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