Dates Announced for CDOT’s Bike Classes, Suitable for Absolute Beginners

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Bike ambassadors (in red) in the parking lot of the Garfield Workforce Center, where the West Side classes will be taught. Photo: CDOT

Today the Chicago Department of Transportation announced the dates and locations for its free adult bike-handling classes on the South and West sides, part of the department’s strategy to encourage more use of the Divvy bike-share system in low-to-moderate-income communities of color. Here’s the info:

Garfield Workforce Center 
10 S. Kedzie Avenue

  • July 25-29, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • August 8-12, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Kennedy King College
 710 W. 65th Street

  • August 15-19 , 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • August 22-29, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • August 29 – September 2, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

These one-time classes, suitable for people who never learned to ride a bike, as well as those who wish to brush up rusty cycling skills, will be taught by CDOT’s Bicycling Ambassadors outreach team. Divvy bikes will be provided as loaners, so participants won’t need to bring their own cycles. Attendees will also get free helmets, funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the Divvy sponsor. Slow Roll Chicago and other community organizations are helping to promote the classes.

An RSVP is required to attend a class to make sure there are enough instructors available. To RSVP any time before the class, call 312-744-8147.

The seminars are geared towards adults, but they’re also open to children if space is available. However, kids under 16 need to bring their own bikes, since the Divvy system is only available to riders 16 and older.

Participants will start out by riding on a Divvy bike with the pedals removed to get the hang of coasting, steering, and braking, until they can coast for at least 20 seconds without putting a foot down. Next the instructor will add one pedal so that the students can try starting the bike with the pedal. Once they’ve mastered that, the second pedal will be installed.

The ambassadors will also be leading rides for people who have taken the class on four Tuesdays during the run of the class, leaving the class locations. The rides will involve pedaling a mile or two on quiet streets to give participants a chance to use their new skills.

“Chicago has been working hard to connect more neighborhoods by building new and better bike lanes, and expanding the Divvy bike sharing network,” saidCDOT assistant commissioner Sean Wiedel. “Free adult riding classes are a natural fit with the City’s efforts to get more people on bikes.”

This summer the Divvy system is expanding from 475 stations and 4750 bikes to 584 stations and 6,000 bikes, including ten stations in Evanston and 13 in Oak Park (the suburbs lined up their own funding). Of the 85 stations being installed in Chicago, almost all are going to the South and West sides. As of Wednesday, 564 of the stations had been installed, and the last 20 should be placed within the next few weeks, according to CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey.

For more information about the classes, see FAQs here.

 

  • Vic

    Hopefully they will be taught the Illinois Rules of the Road. So at least they will learn traffic laws as well.

  • No doubt this question reflects my privileged upbringing and sheltered life, but are there adults who don’t know how to ride a bike?

  • Yes, and for various reasons. For instance, many children of chinese immigrants for whom cycling was the only method of self-transport would be unlikely to see cycling as a fun activity for their children to learn.

  • Anne A

    Are you at all familiar with the Bike Ambassadors program? They take traffic safety seriously.

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