Tony Cherolis is a pathfinder, a bicycling pathfinder, who directs Bicicleta y Comunidad (BiCi Co.) for Hartford’s Center for Latino Progress. He’s also the Center’s Youth Program Coordinator, no small responsibility.
I first met Tony on a Fair Housing Tour of Hartford’s neighborhoods. He was quick to point out that while many Hartford streets are bike friendly, many more safe biking streets are needed. He was equally excited to share BiCi Co.’s story, and its bicycling initiatives. BiCi Co.’s programs are aimed at improving “youth and adult bicycle safety, while increasing our community’s sustainable mobility and access to jobs in the City of Hartford.” They address a critically needed option to travel about the city without depending on a car or bus.
BiCi Co.’s programs range from Member Do-It-Yourself (DYI) repairs, to engaging more women in safe and fun bicycle recreation and transportation, to LIFE – HARTFORD!, an April Spring Break event at Heaven Skate Park. Of special note is the Earn a Bike Youth Program.
The Earn a Bike program is designed to turn “youth into safe and responsible bicycle riders,” who upon completion earn a bike, often times a previously unaffordable option. Open to youth 13 to 18 years old, the program requirements include:
- Fixing a bike for our community and then fix a bike for yourself.
- Learning about bike repair from expert mechanics. Hands on!
- Learning the rules of the road and advanced bike handling skills.
- Getting a bicycle helmet, a bike lock, and lights.
- Bicycle lights, front and rear – Quality, weather resistant bicycle lights will be provided.
- Bicycle helmet – Proper helmet fit and importance of use will be part of the curriculum.
- Bicycle lock – The rider needs a secure bicycle lock and knowledge of how to use it properly.
- Retro-reflective stickers – to augment low light and nighttime visibility.
- A Bicycle – Each student that completes the course will obtain a general purpose bicycle. The bicycle will be tuned up, ready to ride, and sized to fit the student.
It’s a comprehensive program geared to getting youth on the path to safe and healthy bicycling.
BiCi Co. is just one of the many vital Center for Latino Progress community programs, aimed at advancing “the socio-economic condition of the community at large, with emphasis on Hispanics, through education, training, supportive services, leadership development, and advocacy.” You may discover the details of all the Center’s programs on its website.
Don Shaw, Jr.
Writer and Editor