West Town Bikes, located on Paseo Boricua (the stretch of Division street centered between Western and California avenues), in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood has long been known as a go-to resource for those looking for lessons in bicycle mechanics.
Their youth education programs, coupled with adult classes in the evenings, and a thriving storefront bicycle retail operation (Ciclo Urbano) have made West Town a center for promoting bicycle culture on Chicago's West side.
Recently, some of the program participants in West Town's youth education programs took their show on the road when five members of West Town's Girls Bike Club made the trek to January's second annual Youth Bike Summit hosted by Recycle-A-Bicycle in New York City.
The five teenage members of Girls Bike Club (Joceliz Arnaud, Tania Castillo, Shacora Hawkins, Ladijah Hollingsworth and Kayla Story) chaperoned by West Town’s Program Manager Liz Clarkson gave a presentation to some of the other 275 attendees from 20 other states about their one-of-a-kind club.
This club, along with West Town Bike's popular Women and Trans Open Shop Nights, both serve as shining examples of the fantastic work being done to expand the accessibility of bicycling as transportation to what many have designated the "indicator species"--namely women.
Programs like these, popular blogs on cycling with women in mind like "Let's Go Ride a Bike" (written by Chicago lawyer Dottie Brackett), women-specific rides such as the monthly Women who Bike brunch rides (also organised by Brackett), as well as expanding trends in cycling clothing and style that appeal to female riders are all part of a movement that brings cycling more and more into the mainstream.
There are even bicycle bags and accessories produced by local Chicago companies like Po Campo that are designed with women riders in mind.
So kudos again to West Town Girls Bike Club and your recent trip to the Big Apple. We hope that you inspired other young women to experience the empowerment that occurs with independent transportation choices like bicycling. We'll be on the lookout for girls bike clubs to be popping up all over!