Ground Report: Thriving Bike Tours in Jordan!

Our friends over at Al Numeira Bike Shop and Bike Tours in Jordan are having a great season. Al Numeira is located along the Dead Sea Highway, halfway between the Dead Sea resorts and Petra. We shipped out almost 500 bikes to them last April and we are so excited to see them in action! Thanks to our partners from Abercrombie & Kent for helping make this shipment and this story possible!


The Working Bikes “Kitchen Crew” Takes the Lane

On November 17th, the Volunteer Committee went bowling at Diversey River Bowl! The field of experience was wide, ranging from a first-timer to league members. It was exciting to bring together people that contribute to the shop on different schedules.

The Committee also voted to change its name. Our scrappy collective of volunteers will hereby be known as the WORKING BIKES KITCHEN CREW.

The name, proposed by volunteer Paul Konkoly, came from the tradition of bike co-ops being nicknamed “kitchens.” Our volunteers are also avid cooks and bakers, and volunteer hours often times means getting to snack on homemade treats. 

Two of the Kitchen Crew’s goals are to build comradery and encourage dialogue about ways the volunteer experience can be improved. Stayed tuned for more fun volunteer gatherings in 2019.


Meet Devon, the newest member of the Working Bikes team!

Devon is joining Working Bikes as our new Community Engagement Manager. She moved from Portland, Oregon less than a month ago in pursuit of new adventures and good hot dogs. A graduate of Lewis & Clark College, Devon is passionate about bringing people together, whether it be for a volunteer event or a chili cook-off. Since graduating in 2014, she has worked for a number of nonprofits, serving as an outreach manager, development assistant, volunteer coordinator, and coffee cup mascot. Originally from Seattle, Devon is excited to explore Chicago on her trusted Surly Straggler, Buffy.


19th Anniversary Celebration A Success!

Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us last week! It was our most successful celebration yet! We had a record 30 sponsors, over 250 attendees, 19 Silent Auction Packages, and buckets of fun!

A HUGE shoutout to Lagunitas Chicago TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary for the beer and the ambiance. We also want to say thank you again to all our sponsors, including Nancy Gerrie, Christopher Burke Engineering, Marcia Bogolub, Jenner & Block LLP, TTX Company, Jim Lindsey, Wheel & Sprocket, Andrew and Gail Brown, Freeman Kevenides Law Firm, Keating Law Offices, Susan Senturia and Frederic Juengling, SRAM, Ken Weissman, Chris Fortune, Howard Epstein and Gay Sigel, Troy Hernandez, Cameron Sutton, IV Ashton, David Weber, CIBC US, Jill Olswanger, Stephen Siegel, Bob Glaves, Alvin Katz, David Williams, West Town Bikes, Active Transportation Alliance, Pete Travnicek, Mutual Federal Bank, Eric Wood, and Trevor Grant.

See all event pictures here.


Maja Perez to Step Down as Events and Communications Manager

As of September 19, 2018, Maja Perez will be leaving Working Bikes and moving home to Bakersfield, California. In the last three years Maja has been instrumental in the creation of Working Bikes’ WTF! Night on Thursdays, as well as implementation and development of the Salesforce CRM software within Working Bikes acquisitions and volunteer programming.

“Without getting too much into the weeds, Maja’s work with Salesforce has allowed us to better catalog, communicate with, and serve those who collect and donate bikes. This alone makes our work more sustainable and efficient.”

Maja, along with Trian Alexander, also piloted Working Bikes’ format of two monthly newsletters, one focused at the entire community as well as another which is directed towards current volunteers.

Maja will truly be missed at Working Bikes, but her dedication as well as the systems she has created will long serve Working Bikes in example and deed.

During the transition in hiring a new Communications Manager Maja will work remotely. WTF! will still continue Thursday nights and will be hosted by our very own Mikela “Keke” Pinkney!


Summer 2018 Shipping Party Results

Fall is here and we’ve got the summer stats! Together we shipped a total of 1,939 bicycles from June through September. This includes:

  • 501 bikes to Bici-Tec in Guatemala
  • 510 bikes sent to Africycle’s Malawi project
  • 490 bikes shipped to the Village Bicycle Project at Ghana
  • 438 bikes were sent to the Fijian Ministry of Youth and Sport

What a landmark summer considering it has been 10 years since we shipped to Guatemala and our first time partnering with the country of Fiji!

Stay connected with us for upcoming shipment announcements. We want to thank all our individual and group volunteers who took the time to prep and schlep this summer, without you we wouldn’t be able to help so many people around the world!

Take the time to look at our calendar for volunteer opportunities on and offsite.


The Dockless Bikeshare Dilemma

For several months Working Bikes has been receiving emails and inquiries regarding how one may rescue dockless bike share bikes from the wanton destruction being documented in China. As cyclists and recyclists, the staff and volunteers of Working Bikes are heavily motivated to find the best function for underutilized bicycles, but given the condition and location of many of these bikes it has been far outside our organization’s ability.

Ofo had a short-lived visit in Chicago. Before and during the Ofo trial period, Working Bikes was in contact with a representative to see how the organizations could collaborate. Many of the dockless vendors balked at Chicago’s initial roll-out, but the need to have “lock-to” bikes, which literally are locked to a bike rack when not in use, caused Ofo to leave the market.

Recently, Ofo has announced that they were leaving a number of cities in North America following attempts at expansion of their dockless system. Working Bikes received a call regarding nearly 800 brand new and nearly new dockless bicycles in Seattle that needed to be donated, or they would be disposed of. It was kismet that Africycle in Malawi was already familiar with the bikes due to Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation. After working through some logistical issues we are proud to announce that Africycle has been able to negotiate shipping a full container of Ofo’s Seattle bicycles to their project in Malawi! More information is available in this article.


After School Matters Summer 2018 Report

Want to know what After School Matters is like at Working Bikes? Volunteer Coordinator Andrew Bermudez reports on his experience as the summer instructor for Working Bikes Youth Apprenticeship.

This summer was our second year hosting After School Matters apprenticeship. Ten students participated in the six-week program, with returning student Tiffany Anderson promoted to the role of program assistant.

There was no shortage of activities this summer. The teenagers helped prep bicycles for shipment to Malawi and Guatemala. When the loading dock was overflowing in July they rebuilt Kids’ Bike Mountain to a quadruple stack of 20” bikes! In Brandon’s Bike Shop the participants worked in pairs and learned each step of the repair checklist and restored children’s bikes for local donation.

Professional development was also a focus as the teens were assigned pages from the Safe Cycling in Chicago handbook for which they delivered short presentations. Bike handling was emphasized through riding exercises such as signaling to motorists and shifting gears.

What’s a bike program without rides? Our youth completed 8 field trips to El Paseo Community Garden, the Divvy bike share warehouse, Douglas Park Pool, 12th Street Beach (twice), and Navy Pier for a total of 60 miles behind bars!

We had an opportunity to collaborate with other ASM programs nearby. During the fourth week the Young Run Chi ASM program based in Barrett Park visited our bike shop. We divided into small groups and the Working Bikes youth taught the Young Run Chi teenagers 5 bicycle repair techniques.

The following day Young Run Chi hosted us at their program site and created an exciting obstacle course for everyone to complete! Spectators could attack competitors with squirt guns and water balloons. Everyone’s speed was recorded, and the fastest athletes won a handmade trophy. It was a successful collaboration that introduced teenagers in both programs to more people in the community. Professional photographer Vanessa Bly was on site to capture the moment. More of her work can be found on Instagram and Facebook.

As a final product the apprentices led a Fix-a-Flat Tire workshop at Plant Chicago’s Closed Loop Festival in Back of the Yards. As a group they delivered a presentation that explained the repair steps and provided advice. Afterward audience members were invited to try patching inner tubes with holes. Eight spectators were present including one participant’s father. Our youth rode 8 miles to and from the festival and helped carry supplies. I feel that rehearsing this workshop strengthened the apprentice’s confidence and oratory skill.

Each day began with an icebreaker and concluded with a reflection which incorporated social, emotional, and cognitive engagement. Most weeks the students had an opportunity to earn pieces of a mobile repair kit. By the end of the program each participant received tire levers, a patch kit, multi-tool, tail light, lock, and helmet.

Participants were invited to bring their own bicycle to repair on the last day of programming. Five people brought bikes. It was rewarding to see them apply what they learned during the apprenticeship to their own bicycles. Shout out to our mechanic John Clark for pitching in!

The program wasn’t without its challenges, but overall was a positive, rewarding experience.

Working Bikes is planning to offer the apprenticeship this fall and is searching for a new instructor. The program runs October 1 – December 9. If you or someone you know is interested, please email [email protected].


What a Day – July 28 Success!

Working Bikes was as busy as ever last Saturday. Even with a slight hiccup on the arrival of our shipping container, we still worked arduously during the last weekend of July to pack a container and donate Cycle of Peace bikes.

Our in-house efforts packed 510 adult and kids’ bikes for Africycle’s project in Malawi. A special shout-out to Saint Sabina for coming on Saturday to join the shipping party, and to all our walk-in volunteers for another full container!

That same day we tabled at the Bughouse Square Debates, our After School Matters program presented a fix-a-flat workshop at The Plant’s Closed Loop Forum & Fest, and we donated locally to communities in South Shore, Englewood, and Austin.

Below is the tally for our Cycle of Peace, aka youth local donations:
55 – South Merrill Community Garden’s 2nd Annual Summer Block Club Party
14 – Think Outside Da Block Party in Englewood
12 – the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Block Party at Austin Hall

The calculated grand total of bikes donated on Saturday, including internationally and locally, is 592! With the work of our volunteers, board and staff July 28 was marked a huge summer success!


The Cycle of Peace is everywhere this Saturday!

This Saturday! Working Bikes is bringing the Cycle of Peace from Over East, to Out West, Down South and even Up (near) North! Please join us at these great community events or at the shipping party in the Heart of Chicago!

This is #summertimechi #cycleofpeace. It is an insane, all-city celebration of so much we love, but is totally inconceivable without the energy, time, and love of volunteers! Please, if you would like to attend or assist with any of these events, email [email protected] It is never too late to begin volunteering!

St. Sabina Day of Service kick-off Rally. 9am
1210 W. 78th place, Chicago
It is Saint Sabina’s annual Day of Service in which all members are asked to volunteer (“Be blessed and be a blessing”). Following the rally a group of volunteers from Saint Sabina will join us for our shipping party to Malawi.

Shipping party begins at Working Bikes at 2434 S Western. We will be completing the second day of loading bikes to donate to our partners in Malawi, Africycle!

Bughouse Square Debates!
901 N Clark, Chicago
Our favorite freaky marching band, Environmental Encroachment will be kicking off this celebration of free speech at noon. Rick Kogan will be hosting and WB will be tabling.

2nd Annual Paradise on Merrill Block party
7000 S. Merrill, Chicago

We will be supporting the work of the awesome organizers and gardeners of the 70th and Merrill Community garden by donating bicycles to the children of South Shore. Our friends from Blackstone Bicycle Works will be joining us as well to make sure that all the kids have access to working bicycles.

Working Bikes After School Matters Apprentices present at
Closed Loop Forum and Fest @ The Plant, Chicago
1400 W 46th Street

It’s hard to believe, but our After School Matters Summer Apprentices are almost finished with their program. They will be leading a flat repair workshop at The Plant Chicago’s amazing Closed Loop Fest. The fest goes from 9am-7pm and tickets are $15. Our Summer apprentices will be leading their demonstration around 2pm.

Poetry Block Party at Austin Town Hall
5620 W. Lake Street, Chicago

Working Bikes is exceptionally proud to be asked to join The Poetry Foundation at their annual Poetry Block Party. We will be providing free bicycle repair and donating children’s bikes. Eve Ewing, Joseph Chillums, and avery young are all performing!

and an early warning!

on Saturday 8/11 we will be at Lagunitas Beer Circus! We’ll need volunteers starting at 9am, but the fest is from 12-5pm.

Can’t wait to see everyone out and about this weekend!
Peace + bike grease,
WB Crew