Published August 13, 2021 at 9:38am.
Story and Photos by Mary Martin. Video by Darien Clark.
With community bike rides, a full bike repair shop, and a team full of passionate riders and teachers, Bike Friendly South Dallas is creating a safe cycling culture in southern Dallas. Launched in 2016, Bike Friendly South Dallas is using bicycle riding and safety to promote wellness and mobility for their neighbors.
Founder and President, Ashly Fletcher, began bicycling in the South Dallas/Fair Park community in 2012 as a hobby in hopes to encourage bicycling as a legitimate means for transportation, and met others along the way who shared her passion, like Stan Hart, Tekisha Hobbs, Doug Gibson, and Stanley Harris.
The nonprofit bike shop and education center on Al Lipscomb Way was created through partnerships with Cornerstone Church and The Real Estate Council (TREC), and have expanded across south Dallas neighborhoods with small bike repair stands. The Hub and Spoke program, funded with help from AARP, is helping bike riders across the community fix a flat tire or tighten their handle bars. Bicycles and spare parts are donated to the shop from across North Texas so that anyone who needs a bike and safety gear can get it.
“We need people to know that we’re here to stay. We want to be here to help,” Ashly says. “Not only do we want to teach people how to ride bikes and maintain them, we want to offer some financial literacy. We want to talk about budgeting, have a real class with a CEO who is running and operating their business, and then do a bike ride and bicycle education.”
The shop is open for local bike repairs every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, and the first and third Saturday of the month. Community bike rides, called Bike Rodeos, are regularly on the calendar, encouraging kids and adults to ride safely in the neighborhood.
“It’s always surprising that at a Bike Rodeo where we are teaching kids how to balance on bikes, there will always be one adult who slowly comes up and gets on a bigger bike and wants to try it out. They will say ‘I haven’t ridden a bike since I was nine,’ and at least one adult will learn how to ride a bike.”
For Bike Friendly South Dallas, the community connection comes first. “Every time I talk to someone about a bike, they have a story,” Ashly says. “Riding a bike is often the first taste you get of freedom.”