Repair sites along 606 trail to provide free bike aid


G-Jun Yam

There will be three repair stations located along the 606 path at the Walsh Park, Ridgeway and Talman locations, according to Jean Linsner, Exelon fellow for Education for The Trust for Public Land.

By Maya Durfee O'Brien

Cyclists using The 606 West Town bike paths will now be able to pump their tires and perform other bicycle maintenance for free when riding the elevated trail.

The three repair stations are located at the Walsh Park, Ridgeway and Talman locations, according to Jean Linsner, Exelon fellow for Education for The Trust for Public Land, which assisted in the installation. The repair stations, which include air pumps and other tools, were installed April 16 along the 606 trail to help riders with day-to-day bike problems

The stations are part of a larger effort to promote bike safety and education for local youth.

Linsner said TPL partnered with West Town Bikes, 2459 W. Division St., and the National Recreation Foundation to launch the project.

The partnership aims to involve local youth in the community and recreation efforts, Linsner said. She added that West Town Bikes will employ six students—ages ranging from 15 to 20—every 10 weeks, who will supervise the bike repair stations, help ensure trail etiquette is followed and educate riders on bike safety.

“It made sense for this particular funding source to be able to have youth up on the trail,” Linsner said. “It’s not like it’s a retail product we just bought to put on the trail. It’s part of a larger community engagement process.”

Emily Leidenfrost, program manager of West Town Bikes, oversees the youth ambassadors who work with the nonprofit on trail and station maintenance.

Leidenfrost said working with youth on the 606 trail is something she enjoys. 

“I’m proud to say that we are employing so many youth right now,” Leidenfrost said.

For some ambassadors, this is their first job, and Leidenfrost is grateful to see how much pride the youth take in caring for the trail by maintaining the repair stations’ upkeep or helping to point out suspicious activity along the trail. 

The 606 trail, located in the western neighborhoods of Bucktown, Wicker Park and Logan Square, opened in June 2015, but Linsner said TPL and the other groups held off on the project until now so the path’s plants and other greenery could be planted. 

Alex Wilson, executive director of West Town Bikes, helped install the repair stations found throughout the trail. 

“Quite often, you don’t know what your bike needs until you start riding it,” Wilson said. “It’s great to have access to tools when you are riding your bike on the trail and find that you need some air in the tires or some basic adjustments.”

Linsner said the stations would allow cyclists to ride more efficiently and safely along the trail. 

“It allows people who don’t necessarily have tools at their houses or garages to fix their bikes,  to be able to come and have that fix-it station be part of their daily commute or their recreational ride on the west end,” Linsner said. 

Ted Villaire, communications director of the Active Transportation Alliance, a local advocacy group for sustainable transportation, said in an April 18 emailed statement that he was happy to see repair stations installed on the trail. 

“Public bike repair stations provide a helping hand for people biking, while showing appreciation for people who are choosing a type of transportation that reduces congestion, makes the air cleaner and the city healthier,” Villaire said.

Linsner said the project is a win-win for everyone involved.

“We get to work with one of our favorite partners, West Town Bikes, [which does] such good work in the community,” Linsner said. “We also get to help support kids gaining new skills that really are wonderful beyond the summer or even beyond their time in Chicago.”