December 24, 2008
Oakland, California, is not just the city with the fifth-highest crime rate in the country -- it's also home to the "scraper bike" movement, which according to Wiretap Magazine is giving young people an alternative to the violence plaguing their communities.
Scraper bikes are tricked out with unique paint jobs, rims and spinners, and have been modified to resemble "scraper" cars of the late 1980s -- American-made sedans decked out with stereo systems, huge rims and imaginative detailing.
Tyrone Stevenson, known by friends as Baby Champ and generally acknowledged as the Scraper Bike King, and hopes to make Oakland a little less violent with each customized bike he creates.
Scraper bikes came up from the Bay Area's "hyphy" hip-hop subculture, and gained attention when Stevenson posted a video with his group Da Trunk Boiz on YouTube that highlighted the bikes.
Stevenson made his first scraper bikes as a troubled 13-year-old, and now attends adult school and hopes to open a scraper bike shop where young people can learn the craft and meet positive role models.
He wants the bikes to show at-risk youth "that there's ... something else out there and people to support you being creative."