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Equiticity is about to relaunch BikeForce, its e-bike mechanics classes, for second year

The program is designed to teach participants about new technologies, with the goal of providing education and work opportunities.

5:59 PM CDT on September 12, 2023

Last year’s BikeForce program. Photo: @HelloSaverio via Equiticity

This post is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance

Equiticity's BikeForce workforce development program for high school students and young adults based in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood is ready to start up again on Tuesday, September 19. Originally launched during the summer of 2022, the apprenticeship program is designed to teach participants about new electric transportation technologies, with the goal of providing educational and livable-wage work opportunities in relevant fields.

There are two 12-week sessions this fall and winter, and a six-week course next summer. Residents of North Lawndale or nearby communities aged 15 to 19 can participate. The sessions will run Tuesdays through Fridays after school.

"The BikeForce program... is centered around electrification and teaching participants about electric bikes, electric scooters, essentially [how to] have a battery work, while also teaching them the mechanics of a bike," said Remel Terry, director of programs at Equiticity. So showing them how to disassemble and reassemble bikes so that they have [skills] that are employable after they finish the program."

Remel said that at the completion of the program, attendees will receive a $1,100 stipend and bikes. "We're very excited to teach young people about the field because we know where the industry is going and we want to be on the forefront." According to Equiticity, the participants will "gain exposure and access to industry leaders like SRAM, Bosch and Lyft/Divvy."

When Terry says bike, she means a traditional, non-electric bike, which Equiticity staff call an "acoustic" bike, as if they were talking about electric and acoustic guitars. While they will also be teaching BikeForce participants how to use acoustic bikes, the greater emphasis will be on electric ones. That is the direction Equiticity sees the bike industry going in the future, since many U.S. residents prefer electric bikes and scooters for ease of use, and the ability to cover long distances quickly.

"So they will learn about acoustic bikes as well, but what makes this BikeForce is... the electrification aspects," Terry said. "They'll be able to leave this program and be hired as a bike mechanic somewhere with the experience of also understanding the battery aspect of the electric bike, which is a very big deal."

Youth from North Lawndale and nearby communities can sign up for BikeForce here.

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