How A Bike Shop Plans To Revitalize Chicago's Old 'Black Metropolis'
Streetsblog Chicago | OCTOBER 2014
Active Trans Celebrates Cool Regional Transpo Projects at Its Yearly Gala
This year, the group opened the Bronzeville Bike Box, a mini cycle shop housed in a 20-foot shipping container. They also put on the Bronzeville Spoketacular this summer as part of a Metropolitan Planning Council placemaking contest, featuring repairs, safety lessons, a ride and, best of all, free ice cream. “Up until the launch of the Bike Box, people in the area did not a have a place to bring their bikes for repair,” Burke noted. “The shop is now getting, on average, about 25 visitors a day.”
In Bronzeville, the South East Chicago Commission organized Bronzeville Bikes Spoketacular in a vacant lot near the 51st Street Green Line station. The event provided educational resources on biking and promoted local businesses.
BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR BIKE FIXED, GET A TOUR, AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Perched diagonally across an intersection from the Bronzeville Community Garden is a freshly painted, bright orange shipping container. A large yellow sign—custom designed and cut by the students at nearby Illinois Institute of Technology—reads, invitingly, “BIKE BOX.” Biking, it seems, might be Bronzeville’s new favorite pastime.
Bronzeville Bikes Promotes New Shop With “Spoketacular” Bike Party
A key purpose of the Spoketacular is to raise awareness of the Bike Box, which Bronzeville Bikes opened on June 15 in a repurposed shipping container in a vacant lot just east of the ‘L’ stop. “We went with a shipping container because they’re inexpensive, sturdy, and weatherproof,” said Darin Triplett, an architect with SolQuest Design Unlimited, which helped design the Bike Box.
A bike hub in Bronzeville, thanks to a shipping container
On a vacant lot at 51st Street and Calumet Avenue, an old shipping container started a new life last weekend as the Bronzeville Bike Box, a combination bicycle repair shop and bike-tour headquarters.
It's one piece of an entrepreneur's plan to develop that intersection into a hub of sustainable culture that includes restaurants and gardens. As a piece of architecture, it's a demonstration of how one of the design world's hottest items can fit into neighborhood programs with small budgets but big ambitions.
Could Bronzeville Become Chicago’s Next Biking Mecca?
The group also had a big contingent in the Bud Billiken Parade, billed as the nation’s largest African-American parade, and provided ride marshals for the University of Chicago’s annual South Side ride, which drew nearly 100 people. Bronzeville Bikes often collaborated with other organizations and efforts promoting biking among African Americans, such as the group Red Bike and Green, and the city’s Go Bronzeville transportation demand management program and GreenCorps youth bike and horticulture program.
Go Bronzeville Promotes Travel Options in the Black Metropolis
As part of Go Bronzeville, CDOT contacted 7,500 residents, asking them to fill out a survey about their current commuting habits and which new travel modes they’d like to explore, and offering to send them “Go Kits.” These are red, reusable shopping bags emblazoned with cute transportation icons and filled with brochures, maps and other resources for getting around the city efficiently, tailored to the recipient’s interests, as well as incentives like free Divvy passes.
Many of the bike events are collaborations with the cycling group Bronzeville Bikes, based out of the Bronzeville Community Garden at 51st Street and Calumet Avenue. These have included free bike repair sessions at the garden, two-wheeled tours of local sustainability initiatives, and a “Divvy and Dogs” ride, which encouraged folks to give bike-sharing a spin by pedaling to a local red hot stand.