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Bike Group to Host Neighborhood Tours of South and West Sides

By Wendell Hutson | October 13, 2014 5:43am
 After finishing a Sept. 20, 2014 bike tour on the South Side participants gathered at a Woodlawn park.
After finishing a Sept. 20, 2014 bike tour on the South Side participants gathered at a Woodlawn park.
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Slow Roll Chicago

PULLMAN — Slow Roll Chicago, which is part of a national bike group, will host a bike tour through urban neighborhoods on the South and West Sides as a way to erase stereotypes about those neighborhoods.

After its first bike tour on Sept. 20, which attracted 25 people and traveled through Chatham, Woodlawn, Grand Crossing, Hyde Park and Bronzeville, organizers have planned two more tours this year.

The next free bike tour will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at New Light of the World Ministries, 10807 S. Wentworth Ave., and end at Hearty Cafe, 9623 S. Western Ave., in Beverly for lunch. The South Side tour will also travel past the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum and Chicago State University.

The last tour this year is scheduled for Nov. 15 on the West Side before resuming in April when tours will increase from monthly to weekly.

Participants for the tours must have their own bike and all ages are welcomed, said Olatunji Oboi Reed, who heads up the Chicago chapter with his childhood friend Jamal Julien.

"Anyone can participate, including children as long as they can keep up," said Reed, a South Loop resident. "We want to use bicycles as a mechanism to improve our communities."

With so many negative stigmas attached to urban neighborhoods, Julien said one goal of the tours is to showcase the good in these communities.

"Crime seems to always be attached to our neighborhoods and we want to show that's not the only thing that takes place," said Julien, a South Shore resident. "I noticed not a lot of Divvy bike stations are in our communities or bike lanes because the perception is we are not bike riders but that's not true."

According to Reed, the fitness portion of the tours was inspired by the "Let's Move" campaign by first lady Michelle Obama.

The campaign "says that everyone has a role to play," Reed said. "Slow Roll Chicago has decided that cycling is our role."

Reed and Julien, who are both 40, met while students at Jane Neil Elementary School in Chatham, where they grew up, and later graduated from Lindblom Math & Science Academy in Englewood.

Reed is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Economics at Roosevelt University in Chicago while Julien works as a real estate broker.

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