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Bikes for the world.

"Bikes are magical," says Lee Ravenscroft amid piles of tires, handlebars, gear boxes, and buckets of chains in the unheated warehouse of Working Bikes Cooperative. The all-volunteer group takes donated and discarded bikes, repairs them, and then distributes them locally and internationally.

"People get a vandalized wheel or they break a couple cables and they don't want to pay for the repairs so they put it out in the alley," says Ravenscroft. "We get a lot of bikes this way--about thirty a week. Our aim is to get more people riding bikes in Chicago and developing countries."

The cooperative has working relationships with nongovernmental organizations in Latin America and Africa. In April, the three-year-old group plans to ship several hundred bikes to Angola. And it recently managed to send a volunteer to Ghana in addition to bicycles.

In the Third World, bikes help farmers deliver produce and enable children to go to better schools, Ravenscroft says. Nick Colombo, a college student and volunteer, says that Working Bikes Cooperative is a good introduction to the "subversive yet innocuous rebel subculture" of people who like bikes. "We take garbage and make it usable," he says.

For more information, contact the group at www.workingbikes.org. The warehouse is located at 927 S. Western Avenue, Chicago, and is open Wednesdays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Title Annotation:On the Line; Working Bikes Cooperative
Author:DiNovella, Elizabeth
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:233
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