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Pop-Up Bike Shop Energizes Blue Island, Ill.

It is always great when Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) can be involved in a project that goes way beyond building trails.

So we were very proud to be a part of the very cool Cal-Sag Cycles Pop-Up Bike Shop in Blue Island, Ill., earlier this month.

It was truly a community-wide effort that brought together youth advocates, Friends of the Calumet-Sag Trail, the Active Transportation Alliance, a local bike shop and other businesses, a temporary art space, and a bunch of great community energy and goodwill.

On June 11, 15 at-risk teenagers and their adult mentors opened a temporary ("Pop-Up") bike repair shop in a vacant building in a section of Blue Island that had fallen on hard times. The Pop-Up Bike Shop was housed in the same building as a Pop-Up Art Gallery, the latest in a creative effort to bring life back to Blue Island's historical central business district.

Under the expert instruction of staff from the local bike store, West Town Bikes, the kids learned the nuts and bolts of basic bike maintenance. Then, on June 11, they opened a one-day only, free-to-the-public bike garage, putting their newly acquired skills to work and helping local cyclists keep their machines running smoothly. 

The teen bike mechanics serviced 90 bikes in just four hours. But RTC has a little more work for them to do. This week, a shipment of brand-new bikes from our friends at Fuji Bikes will arrive in Blue Island, awaiting assembly. Once each young mechanic has put together a bike, it is theirs to keep, courtesy of RTC's Metropolitan Grants Program, funded by the the Coca-Cola Foundation. The teens will also receive a helmet, lock and light at the culmination of this exceptional program to encourage young people to tap into their pedal power, take advantage of their local rail-trail, and provide another bright spark of creativity, commerce and collaboration in their hometown.

Better yet, the blueprint has now been created to allow the program to be recreated anywhere in the region.

Congratulations to everyone who made it happen!

Photos courtesy of Cal-Sag Cycles. 

Posted Wed, Jun 15 2011 1:33 PM by Jake Lynch


Martha wrote re: Pop-Up Bike Shop Energizes Blue Island, Ill.
on Wed, Jun 15 2011 5:12 PM

Hey! That's a picture of my bike technician. Did he do a good job! Thanks.

walter maude wrote re: Pop-Up Bike Shop Energizes Blue Island, Ill.
on Fri, Jul 8 2011 7:57 AM

What a great idea! With all the bikes that people throw away because they are "broken" perhaps the Pop Up shop can go into the repair/recycle business and provide loaner bikes to kids to ride the trail!

mike wrote re: Pop-Up Bike Shop Energizes Blue Island, Ill.
on Fri, Jul 8 2011 4:38 PM

Great way to kids involved in all aspects of bicycling.  

Jane Healy wrote re: Pop-Up Bike Shop Energizes Blue Island, Ill.
on Mon, Sep 12 2011 11:29 AM

I ran the program this past June.  It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me personally, but also for the entire Blue Island community.  

I just had to update everyone:  those kids are riding their bikes!  The bike racks at their schools have a fleet of Fuji bikes locked up out front each day.  I see the kids riding around town all the time--to the library, the store, the park.  And best yet, most of the kids continue to help their community out by repairing bicycles.  They've volunteered on two further occasions to do formal bike repairs at events in town this summer, and will be doing several days of community service for an upcoming bike event at the Middle Schools on Oct. 5 (International Walk and Roll to School Day).

Meanwhile, the publicity garnered from this program helped the community to leverage a fantastic new Complete Streets policty through city council.  It's also paving the way (literally!) for getting the new Cal-Sag trail up and running.

Transformation happens one step at a time. But it's great when it layers into so many different areas at once.

Thank you Rails to Trails Conservancy, Coca-Cola Foundation and Fuji Bikes for helping to make this dream come true in my community.


Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
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