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Only 24 percent of jobs in the region are accessible by transit in 90 minutes or less by a typical resident — and that number drops to 12 percent in the suburbs.

Training the next generation of people biking

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A group of teenagers in the western suburbs just enhanced their bicycling knowledge and received their very own bicycles in the process when they completed the inaugural Youth Earn A Bike Program from Greenline Wheels. Greenline Wheels is a nonprofit managed by Active Trans that promotes bicycling as a sustainable and affordable form of transportation and offers bike education programs.

Four teenagers from the Leading Edge Youth mentoring group took part in the six-week bicycling program. The students, who attend Oak Park-River Forest High School, met every Tuesday after school at Greenline Wheels in Oak Park, where they developed their mechanical skills and learned about bike safety.

The Youth Earn A Bike Program taught the students about the components of a bike and how it works. They even assembled their own bikes.

The students also learned about bike safety, including handling skills and safe riding habits. Traffic safety was also on the agenda as they learned about what they can do keep themselves and those around them safer. Finally, the students took to the road to put their skills to practice and demonstrate what they’ve learned.

At the end of the program, each student earned a bike, helmet and accessories, including lights and racks.

“I liked learning about the different tools and parts of a bike,” says Jamir Banks, one of the students in the program. “All in all, I liked the program, and I definitely like my bike.”

As part of our efforts to expand bike education in the western suburbs, Active Trans envisions the Youth Earn A Bike Program continuing as a complementary offering to the 10-day class Greenline Wheels will offer again this spring in Oak Park and River Forest. Not only does it further promote cycling as means of transportation, we hope that it encourages a sense of pride and responsibility in the next generation of active commuters.  

For more information about Greenline Wheels, please email Jalal Williams at Jalal.Williams@activetrans.org or visit www.greenlinewheels.com.

Leading Edge is hosted by the Oak Park Public Library Monday through Friday. For more information about Leading Edge, please email Stephen Jackson at sjackson@oppl.org or visit the organization’s Facebook page