Alex Wilson, aka Bikefreeek
1) How/when did you get into cycling as a profession?
got into cycling as a profession really through my involvement in
grassroots cycling efforts such as Critical Mass, Bike Winter,
Cycling Sisters, Break the Gridlock and others. My activism had me
noticed by a number of people who worked in professional bike
advocacy. This lead to a position at the Chicagoland Bicycle
Federation (now known as the Active Transportation Alliance)
managing a Student Marketing program for the Chicago Department of
Transportation's Bike Program. I worked on that program from 2001
to the end of 2004. During the transition from that program I
helped develop and piloted a summer youth earn-a-bike program
called BickerBikes, named after it's sponsor Bickerdike
Redevelopment Corporation. BickerBikes was a model program that
became the template for many other youth bicycle programs and which
built the foundation of the not for profit organization that I
2) How does your organization directly benefit cyclists?
The overreaching goals of West Town Bikes
are to promote bicycling in the
city of Chicago, to educate youth with a focus on under-served
populations, and to foster and serve Chicago's growing bicycling
community. While maintaining headquarters and a workspace in
Chicago's West Town neighborhood, WTB has become a city-wide
provider for youth programs serving over a thousand youth a year in
the city of Chicago. WTB also offers a full range of adult classes
nights and weekends. Classes range from a one night Bike Basics
class to multi week classes such as Build-A-Bike and Do It Yourself
Tune-Up. We also offer drop in workshops such as Open Shop and
Women's Night. You can find a complete schedule of our adult
classes at westtownbikes.org
3) Do you specialize in a certain type of cycling?
West Town Bikes specializes in bicycle education. We have a sales
shop, Ciclo Urbano, that supports our not for profit mission. Ciclo
Urbano offers new and used bicycles, parts and accessories as well
as full service repairs. We specialize in bikes for transportation
as well as serving the Humboldt Park community. Ciclo Urbano stocks
a wide variety of parts and accessories and is able to order nearly
anything for special wants and needs. Drop in and check us out at
2459 W. Division St. or on the web at ciclourbanochicago.com
4) What are your "must-have" items for cycling (this could be a
tool, an accessory, a food, etc.)
For a commuter must haves are;
Bolt on parts (to replace quick release)
Determination, a little knowledge and a can-do attitude!
5) What do you see as the biggest area of opportunity in your
Expanding youth programs to include comprehensive in-school bike
education that precedes Drivers Ed.
6) How do you think the cycling community has changed in the
last year or two?
There are more cyclists on the streets of
Chicago than ever before. I'm not sure if many of those who are
riding for transportation consider themselves as "cyclists" or part
of a cycling community. This is a fine thing. When I've been to the
Netherlands everyone there rides bikes to get around and I don't
think that they consider themselves as "cyclists" or part of a
cycling community. It's the norm and everyone does it similar to
walking on the sidewalk or taking transit. Chicago is a long way
from being Amsterdam but more and more I believe that people are
riding as a normal way of getting around. I see more and more
groups of cyclists going to places and events together. This use to
be somewhat uncommon but now I see it pretty regularly. AND
7) If you could go on a bike ride with anyone (living or dead),
who would it be?
Right now (being the middle of the Summer and extremely busy time
in the bike world) it would be on a ride with my partner, Lauren,
who I don't seem to get to spend nearly enough time with.