On Wheels: My Summer as a Biking Intern

BY: CAROLINA GALLO-VILLALOBOS, SUSTAINABILITY INTERNSHIP PROGRAM SUMMER STUDENT, 2017

My job with this internship is to create biking safety and accessibility and you cannot do that unless you address the issues of equity, not just for UIC students and staff, but for everyone. As someone who is a community organizer, the accessibility for all is my primary goal as an intern. This is the reason why I decided to do Chicago Bike Week and provide UIC students, staff, and bikers that ride through the UIC’s Medical Campus information on biking safety and coffee with Cliff Bars. Having such a great turn out of people being interested on biking in UIC motivated me to work with my mentor for the summer Kate to have a roundtable discussion with at the Latino Cultural Center at UIC. Where we will be bringing in a Divvy representative to talk to a group of people, on how they plan to expand Divvy and make it more affordable for low income Black and Brown neighborhoods. Recently, “Divvy’s Unfair Share” was published in the Chicago Reader, by John Greenfield which talks about the how even though Divvy launched Divvy for Everyone, a program for families and individuals making less than $35,000 year, most of their members are white middle to upper class with college degrees. This comes to no surprise to me, especially since there is no Divvys in my neighborhood of Chicago Lawn. As a Divvy member, I would have to take the bus for 1 or 2 miles from my house to reach the nearest station. That is why for me it is beyond creating a biking culture at UIC through my internship. For me is about how we are making sure that biking culture is accessible and safe for all in not just at UIC, but in south side communities- like Englewood and mine Chicago Lawn.

Furthermore, being a biking intern has taught me the work that goes into to maintaining bike racks and adding bike racks for the university. Something that sounds simple, but requires a lot of organization, planning, and physical labor. This summer I learn to not just be a better and safer biker through biking around campus locating bike racks and keeping inventory of all abandoned bikes, locks, and bike rack maintenance. This process took a month and a half and was honestly one of the largest data projects I’ve done to date. Also, I realized how much I learned in Geographic Information Systems, GIS and how I can apply it to the work force. GIS skills that I am using to help update the bike rack map for the UIC. Working as an intern has prepare me to work in my field as a future urban planner and motivated me to get my masters in urban planning.