Reflections On Bike!Bike! 2017


A tour of Winnipeg by bike. Photo courtesy of Trevor Clarke

 

A small group of Working Bikes compatriots attended Bike!Bike! 2017 in Winnipeg, Canada August 24th through 27th. The fourteen-hour drive did not deter the enthusiasm to explore the city and connect with like-minded bike enthusiasts and leaders.

The annual conference brings together bicycle advocates, particularly involved in community bike shops, to exchange ideas to improve their respective organizations and communities. Workshops are requested and led by conference attendees.

 

Stopping before crossing a major street during Bike Jame. Slow Roll’s Oboi holding the bike in Chicago fashion. Photo courtesy of Maja Perez.

Slow Roll Chicago, an organization we have partnered with this summer, presented a workshop entitled “Organizing Community Bicycle Rides as Vehicles for Social Justice & Equity.” Slow Roll Chicago’s co-founder Olatunji Oboi Reed led the discussion that brought up bikes as a means to transform communities and improve lives, which correlate to addressing bicycle equity and social justice. Uniting community members and raising awareness of these issues can be done by organizing neighborhood rides.

Slow Roll Chicago’s co-founder Olatunji Oboi Reed presented a workshop entitled “Organizing Community Bicycle Rides as Vehicles for Social Justice & Equity.” The discussion brings up bikes as a means to transform communities and improve lives, which correlate to addressing bicycle equity and social justice. Uniting community members and raising awareness of these issues can be done by organizing neighborhood rides.

 

Meet Me at the Bell Tower ride through the North End neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Trevor Clarke.

 

One such ride in Winnipeg is Meet Me at the Bell Tower. Bike!Bike! attendees were invited to join the weekly ride, leaving many transformed and humbled. Co-founded by Michael Redhead Champagne, Meet Me at the Bell Tower is intended to bring the largely indigenous neighborhood of North End together, despite hardships of suicide and drug use that are all too common in this community.

 

Michael Redhead Champagne speaking to the crowd before the weekly neighborhood ride. Photo courtesy of Maja Perez.

 

The ride began with Michael speaking to the crowd, megaphone in hand, while a community member passed a tray of smoking sage to cleanse participants. A banner spelling “HOPE” is hung on the bell tower and bikes rolled out to the street. The group snaked through the neighborhood, ringing bells and waving at the curious onlookers sitting on their porches and peeking through their windows. We circled back to the bell tower and were invited to break bread in the community center across the street. Meet Me at the Bell Tower was an experience we will forever cherish.

 

Post-ride meal and a fun raffle at North End’s community center. Photo courtesy of Trevor Clarke.

 

Bike!Bike! 2017 proved to be a great event that brought together familiar faces, colleagues, and new friends. The workshops, rides, and connections that Working Bikes were exposed to over the weekend was an invaluable experience and we cannot wait for Bike!Bike! 2018 in Los Angeles. Our very own Brian Vargas and Chicago bike ally Robert Grossman have plans for hosting B!B! in Chicago within the next few years.

 

Tired from the long ride, but all smiles with the Chicago B!B! crew. Photo courtesy of Trevor Clarke.