Scraper Bikes: “Bike 4 Life Ride”
Born in the streets of Oakland, scraper bikes first gained attention as a trend in bicycle customization that spread with viral speed, thanks to YouTube. Since the Scraper Bike video debuted two years ago, they've become much more: a practical means of greening urban space, a social movement, and a rallying point for young people organizing against violence in their communities.
Tyrone "Baby Champ" Stevenson, who styles himself the Scraper Bike King, says the first scraper bikes were created by Oakland teens who coveted, but could not afford, scraper cars -- souped-up sedans painted with bright colors and with rims so large they scrape the undercarriage. Scraper bikes are such a hit that many teens skip the cars and keep pedaling well past the age of 16.
On July 25, Stevenson organized the second annual "Bike 4 Life" ride to call for an end to violence in Oakland's neighborhoods. "We're trying to bring together a gun truce," he says, "because a lot of people in our community are dying from guns." This Streetfilm features scenes from the ride and more from Stevenson about the movement he helped launch.
Brian Drayton: [0:10] The scraper thing began just like low riders began, before they were called low riders, now they're called scrapers. Because it's Oakland, Oakland has it's own way of doing things. That's why we got Oakland-ish. It's actually an adverb. How we do it in Oakland. [0:23] Music]
Tyrone "Baby Champ" Stevenson: [0:31] My name is Baby Champ, scraper bike king. Originator and creator of the scraper bike movement. We would just have simple materials, bicycle materials. And we created, something that we seen on the daily basis is the cars that we call scrapers in Oakland. You know, and it comes with the custom paint on the frame of the car, and custom paint on the rims. [0:53] So when we seen that, we wanted to take that element and put it onto a bicycle. Because at that time and still to this day we don't have cars and we don't ride in cars and things like that. Scraper bikes is better than cars, because it's green and it saves gas. [laughs]
Jumoke Hinton Hodge: [1:07] You know, you see cars with the rims and stuff. And so some people can't necessarily afford all that and there's no need in losing your mind around dreaming about something. You just create what you need. You design and innovate something totally new. So that's what scraper bikes came out of.
Tyron "Baby Champ" Stevenson: [1:25] It's positive, and it will give the kids something to do with their time. You know, like dealing with fixing the bikes, whether your just painting it or tune ups on the bike.
Child: [1:34] Fix em up, paint them. Try to find old frames and stuff, fix them up get them to trade.
Brian Drayton: [1:39] They are actually creating their own art, they are creating their own movement, they're creating they're own mobility. It gives them something that they can share on Facebook that they can build bikes for each other and other people. They are learning skills and also doing advocacy for safety on the street.
Child: [1:53] I need to put some stickers on here, one right here, one in the front. One in the back. On my pegs. So everybody know, bike for life. And it's all me.
Tyrone "Baby Champ" Stevenson: [2:05] And so we came out with the YouTube video, that's on YouTube. Check that out. It's called scraper bikes by the Trunk Boys.
Speaker: [2:11] Trunk Boooys.
Tyrone "Baby Champ" Stevenson: [2:15] It's a groove, and now it is taking over the world, we got a global movement going. [music]
Jumoke Hinton Hodge: [2:36] I met Champ a few years ago when he was still in high school. And he was just organizing a lot of the rides and it was, from what I remember, it was in tribute to a young brother that had been killed in an automobile accident and he was killed in the street. But it also, like just all the sadness that was going on in general around people being shot and being killed.
Brian Drayton: [3:00] This ride has a couple different focuses. Some of it is to keep the roads safe, but it's also to advocate for no more violence in our communities.
Tyron"Baby Champ" Stevenson: [3:09] We're trying to bring together adventurers, because a lot of kids and a lot of people in our community are dying from guns. And so all of us that ride with the scraper bikes, come from those neighborhoods that's affected with gun violence.
Jumoke Hinton Hodge: [3:23] The solution and the change that we talk about we need in our community it comes from young people. It's talking about everything, you know the importance of riding and being healthy. The importance of green. Just coming together as a community in Oakland, black, white, brown, it's a movement. [music]