North Lawndale’s My Block My Hood My City is bringing back electric scooters for some of their youth-led summer tours.
The group also tried out the scooters back in 2019, when the city had a pilot program testing rentals of dockless electric scooters in a few areas. This year, Lime is donating use of the scooters — and helmets — to My Block for its Friday tours of North Lawndale.
“Scooters are accessible,” said Nathaniel Viets-VanLear, senior program manager at My Block My Hood My City. “It’s a way to get around the city and instead of being on a tour bus, you get to experience the city in a unique way.”
My Block is a community-based organization focused on inspiring and uplifting youth. This is the group’s fourth year of youth-led walking tours in North Lawndale and their first year in Little Village. Tours are offered on Fridays and Saturdays.
Viets-VanLear said the tours have become an important component of the group’s work, helping to “showcase the things that are beautiful in their communities” but aren’t always seen.
The scooters will be used on the group’s North Lawndale Industrial Tour, which runs Fridays from July 9 through Aug. 27. It explores the companies that helped shape the area, including Sears. Remaining tickets are $40; three sessions are offered, 15 minutes apart, starting at 9 a.m.
On Saturdays, My Block also offers the North Lawndale Civil Rights Tour. Participants will walk through the area Martin Luther King, Jr. lived during his time in Chicago. This summer, My Block also has added the Little Village Modern History Tour, a walking tour offered on Fridays and Saturdays.
All remaining tickets for both walking tours are $30.
The scooters are “about getting people out in their neighborhoods,” said Lee Foley, Lime’s director of government and community relations. “It’s about exploring the value in your own community in a safe and affordable mode of transportation.”
Last week, Lime held a safety training session with five tour guides in Douglass Park. It was the first time some of the youth leaders had been on an electric scooter.
Some tour guides were shocked at how fast the scooters can go (up to 15 mph), but said they’re excited to incorporate them into the tours this summer.
Meya Garrett, 16, has been with My Block for almost three years.
Last year, Garrett led walking tours in her North Lawndale neighborhood.
“It was so hot some days,” said Garrett. “The scooters will make the tours faster but more fun. And hopefully we’ll get more guests.”
Garrett said she’s excited to use the scooters in the tours, but also nervous. Thursday was her first time riding one.
“I’ve got to worry about not falling off and make sure no one falls behind,” she said, laughing.
For some, Thursday’s event also emphasized the need for equitable transportation in all areas of the city, which Foley said Lime is heavily committed to.
“What we’ve heard is it’s difficult to get around the city, to CTA and bus stops,” said Foley. “Lime fills the gap for those who don’t have cars or for whom rideshare may not be an option.”
A proposed ordinance introduced last week would allow dockless scooter rentals to return to Chicago — this time, citywide.
John Whitaker, a 39-year-old Chatham resident, said placing scooters in communities that have “enough drama and violence” can “bring a different energy.”
“This is something everyone can do,” added DeAndré Baldwin, Whitaker’s cousin. “It’s something we can do that’s social but safe.”
Baldwin, who lives in Englewood, said he recently bought a scooter for his 8-year-old son and hopes to see more scooters on the South Side soon.
“We don’t have stuff like this in my neighborhood,” he said. “If they can do this on the West Side, they can do this on the South Side.”
Cheyanne M. Daniels is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.