Blackstone Bicycle Works, located on Chicago’s South Side, isn’t your typical bike shop. This shop doesn’t just sell bikes, it teaches Chicago’s youth how to build, repair and improve them.
“Blackstone Bicycle works is a non-profit, full-service bike shop in which we run a youth program teaching bicycle mechanics as well as safe riding skills as well as business skills,” Youth Program Manager Aaron Swanton says.
After spending 25 hours working in the shop, participants earn their own bike. Rajah Dye, a high school senior, has been in the program since she was in sixth grade. To date, she’s earned more than 20 bikes but even more than the bikes, she’s earned the respect of her peers and a second family.
“It’s like a second home, to tell you the truth,” she says. “When I don’t have nowhere to go, I come here. When I don’t have no food, I can come here. If I don’t have a ride, I can come here.”
For Rajah and her peers, these bikes aren’t just a form of transportation, they’re a fun way to exercise while seeing the city. Below are just some of the many benefits of cycling:
- An hour-long ride can torch 500+ calories
- It tones your entire body and improves balance
- Switching from a car to bike for your commute can add years to your life
- Because it’s an aerobic exercise, a bike ride triggers the release of endorphins which promote an increased sense of well being
Just remember to grab your helmet and take the necessary safety precautions.
Blackstone Bicycle Works is located at 6100 South Blackstone Ave. and can be reached at 773.241-.5458