Imagine this: you’re cruising along the lakeshore with the summer’s wind in your hair on a free bike. It’s entirely possible as the Chicago Department of Transportation plans to give away free bikes over the next few years. Paired with the Annual Learn to Ride classes coming back for the Summer, now is the perfect time to learn how to ride a bike, and the city is stepping in to help out.
The free bike initiative first began in March, when commissioner Gia Biagi announced a plan to distribute free bicycles during a speech to the City Club of Chicago. Now, the giveaway has gained its wheels, with sponsorship from the Climate Recovery Bond. The free bike initiative is intended to complement the city’s plans to install miles of newly upgraded bikeways.
The Chicago Department of Transportation will start to distribute bikes this summer, with at least 500 new bikes to be given away in the first year of the program. The plan as of right now is to continue to distribute over 5,000 bicycles (along with safety gear and maintenance equipment) over the next four years with a gradual increase in the distribution of free bikes each year. The criteria for receiving a new bike includes an eligibility requirement. As nothing is set in place just yet, officials plan to share additional eligibility requirements and application information within the coming month.
CODT is working with community organizations and leaders to make sure the program will launched soon. Right now, participants in summer mobility programming such as the Summer Youth Program Green Corps Youth, Learn to Ride classes, and annual Open Boulevard Events are all eligible to receive bikes.
If residents can’t attend classes or programs, they are still able to meet eligibility requirements and can apply online. In terms of income cap for eligibility, nothing concrete has been announced as criteria and programing are still being finalized, but from what is known, the Chicago Department of Transportation plans to announce their requirements soon.
There are tons of free summer classes available, like the free learn to ride courses for children and adults. The Learn to Ride program is now open, with classes held at six locations throughout the city. The classes are taught by the Chicago Department of Transportations SAFE (Streets Are For Everyone) Ambassadors in two hours long classes. Available for Chicago residents age 16 or older, participants will learn how to ride a bicycle based on experience level.
Register for the Learn to Ride program here. Reservations are required and granted on a first-come, first-serve basis for all courses. Fill out the form here. Divvy bikes will be available for all registered attendees, but for anyone under 5’3, the program encourages you to bring your own bike. Children under the age of 16 are welcome to attend the classes as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
We’ll update as more eligibility information become available.
[Featured photo via: Shutterstock]