For the past two years, Oak Park’s Greenline Wheels has partnered with the library’s Leading Edge youth development program to teach Oak Park and River Forest High School (OPRFHS) students to assemble, maintain, and safely ride bicycles.
Eight OPRFHS students have gone through the six-week Youth Earn a Bike program, ultimately earning their own bike, helmet, and accessories, including lights and racks.
Jalal Williams, Greenline Wheels Manager/Bicycling Outreach, said the program gives students a sense of accomplishment and ownership. “Not only do they have a bike that they can show off to their friends, they’ll have the pride of being able to say that they built it themselves,” he said. Some have had little or no previous mechanical education and initially struggle with finding the right tool for a particular job, he added. “However, by the third week they are comfortable using tools to make repairs and adjustments to their bikes.”
Greenline Wheels, 105 S. Marion St., is a nonprofit managed by the Active Transportation Alliance that seeks to contribute to the vibrancy of Oak Park and River Forest by promoting cycling as a sustainable and affordable form of transportation, as well as provide quality youth and adult bike education programs.
Oswald Delgado, one student who participated in fall 2016, said for him the program was about "more than making the bike, it was about making memories and connections."