One Scrap of Fleece

Little things, like a handful of fleece, can make a big difference. In Chicago, bicycle activists from Break the Gridlock helped fair weather cyclists stay in the saddle year round with simple gifts of homemade head gear.

Ten years ago, Bike Winter emerged from Chicago’s Critical Mass community as a way to encourage people to keep cycling as the temperature plummets. At one of the early classes, we gave away colourful fleece balaclavas. They were a huge hit. Each year, we made another batch, but knew the demand was far greater than our capacity.

Willow naceo received one of those early balaclavas and decided to give back. She buys and scavenges fleece, burns up her scissors and sewing machine, and dresses as Santa to share Bike Winter cheer and gifts. “That balaclava made my first Bike Winter cuddly and warm. If something as simple as a free fleece goody can keep more cyclists on their bikes, I want to help spread the warmth,” explains willow.

In honour of Bike Winter’s 10th anniversary, Santa willow decided to leave no cyclist’s ears uncovered. She drained her savings account buying material and organised craft nights. “It is amazing how quickly a small group of volunteers can cut balaclavas in an evening of eating, drinking and socialising.” We have distributed over 2,000 fleece freebies this winter, helping one person at a time discover the joys of winter cycling and living carfree.

Gin Kilgore, bikewinter.org

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