Local

Englewood bike tour highlights neighborhood's positives

Saturday, June 22, 2013

One of Friday night's shootings happened in the West Englewood neighborhood, which is often in the headlines because of gang violence.

But on Saturday, some residents tried to turn the focus to positive things going on in the South Side neighborhood with a bike ride through Englewood.

15th Ward Alderman Toni Foulkes used a bike tour to highlight the more positive side of the place she calls home.

"People say, 'How do you have such a good attitude with the foreclosures and the vacant lots and the violence?' We remember when and we hold on to that," said Ald. Toni Foulkes.

Many here say Englewood is misrepresented by the news media and others who don't live here.

"People just pick on Englewood to be a bad neighborhood, when it's really not," said Kewane Pipkins, Englewood resident.

The alderman started the bike tours six years ago with the goal of encouraging 15th Ward residents to live a healthy lifestyle. But this year the event also set out to point out what's good about this South Side neighborhood.

"It's incredible what the alderman is doing down here in 15," said Randy Neufeld, Ravenswood resident.

The 85 kids and adults who biked Saturday morning learned about new developments in the 15th Ward. A police escort provided traffic control as the group made several stops during the mile-long route.

Participants sampled watermelon at an organic farm in Englewood. They also stopped at Firehouse Engine 116 Squad 5, which does the most runs in the city.

It's located just blocks from where a 19-year-old man was shot overnight Friday. Despite that recent violence, the tour changed the perceptions of the area for some.

"The farm we just saw was very nice, the playground is very nice, so people still care," said Dartagnon Gunn, Country Clubs Hills resident.

The tour finished at a local church where it started as Alyssa Ausluy hoped for a peaceful and safe summer.

"My hope is that people stop doing violence and all come together," said Alyssa Ausluy, Englewood resident.

Many who participated in Saturday's bike tour hope to make it a monthly event during the summer that will get people coming back to the neighborhood. They say that would really help change the way people think about Englewood.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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