The East Bay has no shortage of bike shops that go the extra mile to provide job-training opportunities to local youth, advocate for bicycle infrastructure, offer classes and education, or otherwise pair retail and repair with a dose of activism. Even within this crowd, there's something that sets West Oakland's Bikes 4 Life apart. The shop opened its doors in 2009 as an outgrowth of its popular annual Peace Ride — not the East Bay's biggest group ride, but likely the most diverse. That's no small point of pride for the shop's founder and manager, Tony Coleman, who uses Bikes 4 Life to build community in West Oakland and to empower underserved young people who possess few constructive outlets. The bikes themselves — worshiped as they are in so many upscale hobbyist and bike-racing shops — are merely tools, a means to an end. That shift in perspective makes all the difference.
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