'Bikes Against Banging' program aims to pull kids out of gang lifestyle

SAN DIEGO - A local program is working hard to pull kids out of the gang lifestyle and the man behind says it is making a big impact in the community.

Low rider bicycles are serving a different purpose these days and are being used to redirect inner-city youth involved in gangs.    

The effort has been dubbed "Bikes Against Banging." Lucky Morales, a 2001 ABC10 Leadership Award recipient, is leading the charge.

"It's a good thing for us … keeps us out of prison, keeps us from dying at an early age," said Morales.

For the past 17 years, Morales has walked against gang violence almost every Sunday and says his "Bikes Against Banging" program has helped lead to a drop in local Hispanic-on-Hispanic gang violence.

"We're not just out there, you know, gang banging and making problems selling drugs and being gang-affiliated," said Morales.

Uriel Leon grew up in a gang neighborhood – even ran with them for a while – until he got into low-rider bikes and cars.

For him, leaving the gang lifestyle was no easy task.

"It was pretty hard 'cause all my friends I had … they were all like, 'You're someone else now, you're not the same,' stopped talking to me … all because I stepped out and I don't want to get along with them no more," he said.

Now, Leon says he stays out of trouble and remains focused on building the bikes. His hope is that young gangsters will hear his message and follow in his footsteps.

"We help them out with everything they need," said Leon. "Cash is never a problem in this club because we help each other out."

Those involved in the program say a lot of pride goes into building the bikes and that most of the artwork involved was inspired by the Aztecs.

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