Ingezonden

Alexandre Leclercq (middle) out with two young riders (Syracuse Bicycle Works)

Many inner city kids don’t have safe places to ride. On top
of that they often have no bikes to ride. In Syracruse, New York, this was the
case until part time blogger, part-time community
volunteer, Alexandre Leclercq, took his passion
for old bikes and turned it into a way to help his community’s kids.

“The program started with my
blog,” said Leclercq. “I love repairing old
bikes. I love customizing them. I love certain old fashioned looks. I love
riding for style and pleasure, rather than for performance, and I felt there
was a certain bike culture missing in Syracuse.”

Leclercq told BikeRadar that the local bike
shops sold high-end performance oriented bicycles that were beyond the cost
most kids today could afford. And the big-box retailers only sell low-end mass-produced
bikes. “So I thought I would experiment with a blog that would promote
repairing and customizing old bicycles and bicycling in style,” said Leclercq, who went on to create Syracuse Bicycle Works.
“Through that blog I try to push forward a certain aesthetic and ethos that’s
been missing so far.”

Leclercq then took his blog from
the digital world to the real world in his community. At the time he
started the website, he was volunteering in on the west side of Syracuse. “It’s
the Latino district,” Leclercq added. “One of
the poorest neighborhood in the nation.

“There, kids and adults ride bikes all the time,” said Leclercq, who runs a workshop, which now meets at the
local Mundy Branch Library every other Saturday.

This program allows for kids come and use his tools to fix
up their bikes. “I give them tutorials on how to do certain repairs or
customizations,” said Leclercq. “We work on specific
projects together, like the West Side Art Council’s bike show last year. We go
on rides together, like on Syracuse’ Creek walk.”

He also now encourages the kids to ride more, and this often
just requires showing them how to maintain their bikes, which would otherwise
be crippled by flat tires, loose chains, defective brakes, or a general lack of
tuning.

A lot of the club’s worth work centers on making bikes
easier for youthful hands to maintain; such as opting for coaster brakes, and
building up single-speeds that need little maintenance. “I also push them to
opt for bigger bikes, rather than the usual BMX, so that they can go further
with them and discover other neighborhoods or landmarks in the city of
Syracuse.”

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