Chelsea Chen, a freelance graphic designer, never thought she’d ride a bike for the purpose of transportation. However, this changed after she moved from Orlando, Florida to Chicago in May.
Chen started biking after she bought a black Retrospec bike and named it Paula. She found the experience fulfilling, being able to easily get around and explore Chicago. It was from a serendipitous bike ride in Pilsen where Chen became a Working Bikes volunteer.
“I bought my bike at [another bike shop] where they told me about Working Bikes,” said Chen. “I never actually went until I got a flat [tire] on Western Ave. Working Bikes was the closest place, and I came to get it fixed. It was also during volunteer hours, and I ended up volunteering the same day.”
Since then, Chen has been helping out when she can, whether it’s fixing bikes at WTF (Women Trans Femme) Nights on Thursdays or designing the flier for Working Bikes’ 17th anniversary fundraiser. It has been a positive experience for her so far, especially since she’s able to get out of her comfort zone and meet new people.
“I’ve done a couple of extra curricular activities to fulfill my life here [in Chicago and] I want to say Working Bikes has been the most rewarding. It’s easy to connect with people and the community and feel connected to the world.”
When Chen isn’t volunteering at Working Bikes, she likes to read, sing and play piano, and spend time with her kittens.
And what’s her advice for people who are new to biking in the city? It’s to start off slow and ease into it.
“Once you step outside your comfort zone, it becomes more and more rewarding the further you get.”
This post was written by Jean Khut, Working Bikes’ communications coordinator.