Charlie's FreeWheels Builds Self-Esteem Through Building Bikes

charlies prinsep photo

Inside Charlie's FreeWheels

In the summer of 2007 I wrote about the death of Charles Prinsep, killed on a highway in Alberta, "Flesh and blood against gasoline, alcohol and two tons of steel." As in so many of these stories, there is a period of anger, but rarely any followup as the story is forgotten.

But Charlie's friends haven't forgotten. They set up Charlie's FreeWheels in his memory; they take kids from one of the roughest parts of Toronto and teaching them how to fix bikes. "Through a combination of hands-on practice, cooperative work, discussion and mentoring, the program's participants will focus on the repair of one bicycle each that, upon the project's completion, will belong to him or her."

Co-director Josh Farr explains:

"The pride of rebuilding a bicycle builds self-esteem and responsibility in young people. After the program, our students have significantly honed their problem solving abilities while having also gained a marketable skill."

Toronto Mayor David Miller just named Charlie's FreeWheels a winner of the "2009 Bicycle Friendly Business Awards." Good for them.


Charlie was off to the Sorbonne to study urban planning before he died. "He cared about the environment, and continually sought to find ways to reduce his own environmental impact. Charles was also passionate about cities, constantly envisioning simple and practical ways in which the urban culture he so appreciated could become more environmentally responsible." He deserves such a great living memorial. More at Charlies FreeWheels

The other person I knew who was killed on a bike has a lovely rowing shell named after him. Do you know of any other worthwhile memorials for cyclists? Where their death has led to the creation of something interesting or wonderful?

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