I had all sorts of adventures on bicycles as a kid. We had unfiltered, unsupervised and unrestricted fun.
In the 70’s, we popped wheelies, we rode with no hands and rode far from home only to reverse course immediately when the streetlights came on.
Fast forward, family priorities changed and there just aren’t as many children’s bikes in the homes or on the streets as in the past.
I wanted to change that in my neighborhood, right now. So I did.
Getting the community to believe we could giveaway 500 bikes in one day wasn’t easy.
Conversations would quickly dissolve into concerns about equity, crime, which kids would get bikes, etc. Personally, I am completely exhausted by all the talk about improving our neighborhoods. While we discuss all the possible reasons why situations aren’t better, generations of kids grow up with less adventure and less optimism. I decided to go it alone.
Then I met the guys at Working Bikes.
They collect unused bikes headed for the landfills and refurbish them for reuse.
Working Bikes agreed to supply 500 refurbished children’s bikes for my program. The first year, I raised a lot of money to get it done.
In one day, my squad and I gave 500 bikes away in Bronzeville.
This year, Working Bikes was able to pick up the lion’s share of the costs. They recommended that our new neighborhood for the giveaway be North Lawndale.
They also brought The Restorative Justice Hub Organization into the mix. With Active Transportation Alliance, the Chicago Bike Ambassadors and CAPS returning to help, this year’s event will be AMAZING!
Why 500 bikes? Because it’s a great number to make a social impact on a neighborhood!
Kids can get bikes together, ride to school together and plan adventures together. We take great care to ensure the bikes go to actual residents in the local area.
What I’ve come to realize is we all have the power to improve our communities.
I’m an ordinary citizen of my neighborhood. I decided to use my skills as a project manager to create a project that can enhance the lives of the children around me.
And you can too! With a good idea, some persistence and some elbow grease, you can build a team of action-oriented people who will work with you.
Now we have an annual event, the TAG Bike Builder!
I truly believe Chicago becomes a healthier, more vibrant city with more bicycles on the street. I decided to be a more active resident and help make that happen!
What can you do to help children in Chicago neighborhood get a repurposed bicycle?
Donate your bicycle to our efforts! It will most certainly bring joy to a new generation.
Photo courtesy of Angela Ford, who's pictured in the middle of the photo.
This guest blog was authored by Angela Ford, Executive Director of TAG Foundation. This blog is a part of our Bike Week Blog Series. Learn more about Chicago Bike Week here.