Skip to content
CityLab
Justice

Can 'Bike Libraries' Fix Chicago's Cycling Equity Gap?

Activist Oboi Reed want to help low-income users borrow a set of wheels.
Slow Roll Chicago riders in West Humboldt Park neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago in 2015.
Slow Roll Chicago riders in West Humboldt Park neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago in 2015.Oboi Reed/Equiticity

Chicago is making strides in getting more black and brown people on bikes, but the Windy City isn’t moving fast enough, according to local activist Oboi Reed. His solution: “bike libraries.”

Reed is the co-founder of Slow Roll Chicago, an offshoot of Slow Roll Detroit. Both groups host community rides to get more people of color cycling. In December 2017, Reed resigned from Slow Roll to focus on his new nonprofit, Equiticity, with an expanded mandate to tackle racial equity, increased mobility, and racial justice in biking. Now he’s working on a program that would give low-to-moderate-income residents the opportunity to borrow a bike—for free—from a community organization, for up to three months.