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Come to 'Spoketacular' event in Bronzeville on Sun., Aug. 17

If you haven’t had a chance to see the Bronzeville BikeBox in action, mark your calendar for the Spoketacular on Sunday, August 17, 2-6 p.m.

It promises to be a great bike and community event to get your bike fixed, tour Bronzeville and indulge in ice cream.  

With the Spoketacular, Bronzeville Bikes hopes to draw attention to the advantages of biking to Bronzeville residents.

Bernard Loyd of Urban Juncture, who was instrumental in organizing the BikeBox project, says the Spoketacular, a fun event on the surface, is part of a larger plan: “We expect it to raise the awareness of the great benefits of bicycling for fun, commerce, and health, and help build the local bicycling community.”

Part of building the bike community is through education. The Spoketacular will offer bike safety tips in addition to a bicycle tour to explore the neighborhood.

The tours, which examine the history and architecture of Bronzeville, started last summer with such impressive success they continued this summer.

The tour this Sunday starts at 3 p.m. and riders will leave from the Community Garden at 51st and Calumet; Bill Depenbrock, a volunteer who manages the BikeBox says the next ride will focus on urban foraging, “It’s a ride for edibles, looking at plants in the urban wild.”

The BikeBox, located at 51st Street and the CTA Green Line stop across from the Community Garden, is a repurposed 20-foot shipping container where Bronzeville Bikes does low-cost bike repairs and sells refurbished bicycles.

There are no other bicycle repair shops in the area; last year, Bronzeville Bikes hosted monthly “pop-up” bike repairs in the Community Garden.

Because there was such a demand for the services, the BikeBox was launched this summer. The shipping container is a low-cost structure that Loyd hopes will serve as a model for other communities.

“Once established, he said, the BikeBox can be a self-sustaining 'mini-business' that can be replicated in other economically-challenged urban neighborhoods that are, effectively, bike deserts.”

The BikeBox got off the ground with support from Urban Juncture, Inc., Evanston Bike Club, Bronzeville Bikes, SRAM, Quality Bike Products, Bill Depenbrock and devoted volunteers (pictured above).

Though the operating costs are low, support through bike donations and volunteering are appreciated. If you can’t bring a bike for donation on Sunday, you can make contributions through the Metropolitan Planning Council to support the Spoketacular.

Though summer — and peak bicycling season — is coming to a close, the BikeBox will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through September and Loyd says he hopes to continue bike education programs beyond the Spoketacular.

This blog post was submitted by Active Trans volunteer contributor, Rachel Roszmann.