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Street Love Ride returns Saturday to promote peace and unity on the West Side

The 2020 Street Love Ride. Photo: Norvell Torbert Photography

One of the most encouraging trends in the Chicago bicycle scene is the use of large-scale group bike rides in Black and Latino neighborhoods as a strategy to promote public safety and community unity. Among the most successful of these events has been the Street Love Ride, which drew some 400 participants last year for a peaceful and spirited cruise through the West Side. The ride is returning this Saturday and, due to the ongoing cycling boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, promises to be even bigger this time. Here are the details:

The 2nd Annual Street Love Ride: Spreading Love on Chicago’s West Side
Saturday, August 21, 2021
Community expo 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Ride 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
St. Agatha Catholic Church, 3147 W Douglas Blvd, Chicago
(On the boulevard near Douglas and Kedzie)

The ride is hosted by the North Lawndale-based youth boxing program Boxing Out Negativity, the mobility justice advocacy organization Equiticity, and community bike shop Working Bikes, with help from several sponsors. "We ride together as one city in the fight for peace in Chicago," the organizers stated.

The centerpiece of the eventing is a nine-mile, two-hour tour of North Lawndale and Little Village. "Come feel the Chicago love like you've never experienced before, and help spread much love on the West Side," the invitation states. "Together, we represent a positive community on two wheels, riding through North Lawndale and Little Village to share peace, love, and light. This ride is for community members, peace activists, bicycle enthusiasts, and anyone interested in spreading love on the West Side of Chicago. All are welcome!"

2021 Street Love Ride Flyer_081121The Street Love Ride was the most prominent of a series of weekly community bike excursions led by Boxing Out Negativity coach Derek Brown. “It was important to him to do a ride to reduce violence in North Lawndale,” said Equiticity leader Oboi Reed told Streetsblog last year. “So his point was, how do we use bikes to inspire brothers that are on the street? To show them that the community is welcome to them and open to them and is willing to embrace them should they be ready to make that move. That was the impetus for him for this ride, and I feel like we certainly moved in that direction.”

This year the organizers are encouraging participants who are able to do so to bring donations of new school supplies for distribution at their back-to-school event the following weekend. Last year's event included a bike raffle, DJed music, and resource tables from several community organizations. A local clown also provided balloons to decorate children’s bikes.

Other organizations supporting the event include Ride Illinois, Lawndale Christian Fitness Center, St. Agatha Catholic Church, Wheel & Sprocket, Latinos Progresando, Celestial Ministries, and the Office of Illinois State Representative Lakesia Collins. Sponsors include Divvy (which is providing free loaner bikes), Lyft (the Divvy concessionaire), Saint Anthony Hospital, PepsiCo, and The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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