ENGLEWOOD — As the rest of the city focuses on the reports of violence on the South Side, neighbors in Englewood are brainstorming community-based solutions to keep their neighborhood safe — solutions like the Roll N Peace Critical Mass Bike Tour Friday.
Now in its second year, Roll N Peace’s purpose is threefold. It addresses public safety concerns Englewood while promoting health and wellness among residents. And, the event gives participants the opportunity to see their neighborhood in a new light, while connecting them to resources.
The event kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday at Englewood Square, 6300 S. Halsted St., with a rally and safety check, where cyclists can make sure their bikes are ready for the road. Those who don’t have bikes will be able to borrow a set of wheels from Divvy, and organizers will be giving away free helmets on site, too. The tour will be begin promptly at 8 p.m.
The tour runs about eight miles, passing important neighborhood landmarks along the way. It also hits “community hotspots,” areas where criminal activity may be higher than in other places.
Beforehand, Working Bikes will offers bike repairs on site, Divvy will provide bikes to borrow (last year’s number was 70), Vision Zero helps identify safe routes and Oak Street Health will be offering free mental and physical wellness screenings Friday.
And of course, food and music are provided.
“We wanted to figure out a way to get people more involved,” said Lyana Funches, vice president of Think Outside Da Block, a nonprofit organization that supports kids and young adults in the area. “People can still go out in Englewood. It’s not something impossible to be done.”
The night ride also aims to ease mistrust and open communication with Chicago Police, Funches said. Folks have the opportunity to get to know the officers and district commanders working their neighborhoods at the ride.
“We’re trying to build community awareness. We want people to understand that this is a partnership, and change starts with us,” said Funches, who has called the 6400 block of South Aberdeen home for years. “When you’re riding through the neighborhood, you feel such a sense of pride. You’ve got people coming out of their houses cheering us on; it’s absolutely beautiful. You don’t see it often enough, but when you do, it evokes this powerful emotion.”
This weekend’s ride will also serve as a launch for the T.I.M.E. 21:36 Early Action Project. T.I.M.E. (an acronym for This Is My Englewood, with 21:36 representing 60621 and 60636, the two zip codes that cover the Greater Englewood community) takes a strategic approach to crime reduction, leveraging the knowledge and expertise of community stakeholders with the goal of making neighborhoods safer.
Last winter, the Englewood Public Safety Task Force Committee won a $1 million grant to support a collaboration between it and Teamwork Englewood, R.A.G.E., Northeastern Illinois University’s departments of social work and inner city studies and the Chicago Police Department’s 7th (Englewood) District.
Roll N Peace is a biannual event for now, but Funches hopes to promote more rides in the future. Last year’s inaugural ride included more than 300 cyclists, and the same number participated in a second ride last fall.
“Studies have shown that when there’s a strong community presence, crime drops,” said Funches, who added that crime has been down in Englewood in recent years. (It’s true.)
“Englewood is not what it’s portrayed to be. It’s never been that for me, and plenty of people are doing their best to make it come full circle,” she said.
Funches’ stake in Englewood’s success is personal. Her grandfather — a pastor who never hesitated to cut his neighbor’s grass — purchased the house in which she currently lives more than 70 years ago.
“That give-back is in me,” she said.
To learn more about the Roll N Peace Critical Mass Bike Tour, contact Funches at 708-627-0447. To register for the ride, click here.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.