Last year, John Tarlton, a self-proclaimed "bike nut," participated in the 3,000-mile "Bike Across America" bicycle race from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD, to fundraise for the Stanford Cancer Institute.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, he announced another plan to combine his love of biking with philanthropy.
This time, Tarlton Properties, of which Mr. Tarlton is president and CEO, will be matching donations to Belle Haven Bikes up to $20,000. Belle Haven Bikes is a nonprofit that provides bike mechanic job training opportunities and bike safety education for Belle Haven youth, and its hub is located in repurposed shipping containers at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula in Menlo Park.
Tarlton Properties runs Menlo Business Park, which has about one million square feet of commercial space used for life science labs in the Belle Haven community.
He said the matching grant will be a "win on so many fronts."
He anticipates Belle Haven Bikes will help increase the number of people not driving cars, decrease traffic, and increase the quality of life in Belle Haven. He says he rides his bike nearly everywhere, saying it gets him where he wants to go faster, costs less money, and is a more environmentally sustainable option than driving.
Following the December "Unity Ride" through Menlo Park that Belle Haven Bikes organized, speakers gave a presentation on the organization's accomplishments so far at the converted shipping-containers-turned-biking-hub shipping containers that now house the organization at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.
Diquan Richard, an alumnus of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, read a poem he had written about biking. He said his bike offered him a way to keep food on the table, since he no longer had to pay bus fare, and a way to always get to work on time.
"When I ride, I ride into Tomorrowland," a line of his poem stated.
Another student, Richard, age 9, said biking taught him that "when you fall down, you get back up."
Jeff Feinman, vice president of clubhouses at the Boys & Girls Clubs, said that he'd seen kids who were less engaged with academics, but loved their bikes. The idea for Belle Haven Bikes was to create a career pathway for youth to become trained as bike mechanics. Though the program does offer weekly bike classes, he said the program's emphasis now is more on teaching participating students the "soft skills" of job readiness, including leadership, ownership and health and wellness.
"I think other people will join to make this vision a reality," he said.
Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who attended the event, said she hopes to put on a council agenda a proposal for a bike lane trial on a route near Menlo-Atherton High School.
For more information about Belle Haven Bikes, visit bellehavenbikes.org.