West Town Bikes, near Humboldt Park, a hub in the expanding field of bicycle education, runs 14 after-school programs that aim to provide young people with mechanical skills, work readiness, physical fitness, environmental awareness and personal pride.
The programs are amazing – the kids learn bike mechanic skills, organizational skills, responsibility, and they usually end up with a great bike out of the deal.Â I’ve met some of these kids and they have that self-confidence from knowing they can fix something with their hands.Â Ciclo Urbano in Humbolt Park hosts the Girls Bike Club which just returned from the Youth Bike Summit brimming with ideas and excitement.
“We’re trying to give these kids skills for having future jobs,” said program coordinator Evan Sears. “The goal is to give these kids mechanical know-how so they can look at something that’s broken â€” it may not even be a bike â€” and say, ‘Well, what do I need to do? I need to get a wrench and figure it out.'”
The increase in bike education has paralleled the growth in charter schools and project-based learning, said Hammond; the hands-on, visual learning style of learning reaches students who are not engaged by conventional methods.
If you are in the market for a used bike, check out the bikes they have at West Town Bikes, or stop by for a tire change or tune up. You might have the next bike entrepreneur working on your bike!