Chicago’s Working Bikes empowers riders across the globe

Working Bikes Winter Workshop
Volunteer Coordinator, Andrew Bermudez, demonstrates how to fix a flat at Working Bikes's first Winter Workshop of the year.

By Nathan Ouellette
Medill Reports

Traffic along  Western Avenue south of the Loop is often congested. Yet a reprieve from the pandemonium of horns and speeding cars can be found at the corner of Western Avenue and 24th Place, amid a dense forest of refurbished bicycles, at Working Bikes bike shop. 

Working Bikes is more than just a used bike shop offering rebuilt cycles and spare parts at affordable prices. Sales only make up a fraction of the not-for-profit’s operation, as volunteers stockpile abandoned and donated bikes and refurbish them for donation programs locally in Chicago and globally from Africa to Latin America.

Cycle of Power and Cycle of Peace are two affiliated local organizations that provide bicycles for children and underserved Chicago communities.  Organizations such as CESTA Bikes for the World, in El Salvador, will be receiving Working Bikes’ first global shipment of the year. The organizations help give bikes to those who might otherwise not have access to transportation, education in basic mechanics and promote environmental sustainability.

Much of Working Bikes extensive supply of bicycles comes from personal donations – they encourage patrons to bring their spare bikes and parts directly to the shop itself. Working Bikes has 61 drop-off locations across the city and state.

Photo at top: Volunteer Coordinator Andrew Bermudez demonstrates how to fix a flat at Working Bikes’s first Winter Workshop of the year. (Nathan Ouellette/MEDILL)