As a graduate student in public health at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, when Evelyn (Chavi) Rhodes’ bicycle needed fixing, she took it to a nearby DIY bike shop for repair.
But she quickly noticed that many of the city’s young people who tried to use the space were getting kicked out. Rhodes, who earned her MPH from the Bloomberg School in 2013, was disheartened, but saw an opportunity to provide resources and space for an obvious passion in the community. So in 2014, she founded the Baltimore Youth Kinetic Energy Collective (BYKE).
BYKE is designed to give young people ages 12-17 a safe place to learn bicycle mechanics, practice respectful safe ridership and build community. Initially operating a few hours twice a week in a shared space in Station North, Rhodes used her OSI-Baltimore Community Fellowship to grow BYKE and extend its mission. She now operates a dedicated bike repair and training shop in Oliver, where youth can learn bicycle repair skills, or even earn a bike of their own by working eight hours or more on others’ bicycles.
“A bike is a literal and figurative vehicle for change,” she says. “And it’s a vehicle that young Baltimoreans have already identified for themselves; I just facilitate and bring the resources together.”