It’s been another productive summer for Bronzeville Bikes, an organization that promotes cycling in the historic South Side neighborhood also known as “The Black Metropolis.” The group hosts neighborhood rides and repair sessions, and runs the Bronzeville Bike Box, a small nonprofit bike shop housed in a recycled shipping container. This summer, they also launched the Sister Cycles program, with courses that teach maintenance and repair to women and women-identifiers.
Founded in 2013 by the Urban Juncture Foundation, Bronzeville Bikes is part of a grander vision for the intersection of 51st Street and Calumet Street as a hub of sustainability in the neighborhood. Located just east of a Green Line stop, the location is also home to the Bronzeville Community Garden. Urban Juncture president Bernard Loyd is currently establishing Bronzeville Cookin’, a food-themed complex that will feature restaurants, a rooftop garden, and a produce store. The first eatery, a Jamaican-style chicken place called the Jerk Shack, recently passed its health inspection and should be opening in mid-September. Last year, the Bike Box opened across the street from the garden.
The Bike Box scaled back its operations a bit this year, from three days a week to two. It’s currently open on Saturdays from 12 – 6 p.m. and Sundays from 2 – 6 p.m., which overlaps with the group’s regular Sunday “Celebrate Bronzeville” ride series. “We’ve become an express shop, doing on-the-spot repairs with low-cost pricing,” Bronzeville Bikes intern Cassie Halls explained. “We want to have quick turnover and make sure that a lot of bikes are getting fixed, since we don’t have much capacity to hold bikes overnight.” Simple repairs, such as flat fixes and brake adjustments, run between $5 and $15.
The Celebrate Bronzeville rides take place three times a month. The tour on the first Sunday of each week focuses on art in the neighborhood, the second Sunday spotlights local sustainability efforts, and the fourth highlights history and architecture. The August rides included a Bronzeville gallery tour, a look at small-scale urban agriculture, and a celebration of the 50-year-old jazz collective the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicisians. Another notable ride last month was the Glow Bike Spectacular, in which riders decked out their bikes with glow sticks for a cruise to the Bronzeville Summer Nights 47th Street Takeover, a festival featuring art, music, dance, and poetry.