Chicago’s Bike to Work Week

Chicago and the Active Transportation Alliance officially kicked off its bike to work week on Saturday, June 12, and will end with a Bike to Work Rally in Daley Plaza this Friday, June 18.

This morning I helped out at one of the many bike commuter stations – one that’s along my usual route – and greeted passing bike commuters with shouts of “Happy Bike to Work Week!” and “Join us for free coffee and goodies!”

A few cyclists stopped, some blew by in a hurry, others smiled back and waved (even if they didn’t stop) and others just grimaced. It’s those who were grimacing that gets me. Smile! You’re on a bike. :-)

Just in time for Bike to Work week, Chicago striped some new bikes in a few bike lanes and Active Trans is sharing the bike love with commuters by promoting this week’s bike commuter stations. Be on the lookout for one along or near your morning route.

From Chicago — Happy Bike to Work Week!

Has your company signed up for the Active Transportation Alliance’s Bike Commuter Challenge?


  1. MikeOnBike June 14, 2010 11:11 am 

    New bike lanes smack dab in the door zone. Thanks, but no thanks.

  2. Jay June 14, 2010 11:23 am 

    Every week is bike to work week for me, so it’s ironic that my routine ride this morning was thwarted by the discovery of a broken spoke in my rear wheel. Not wanting to let that develop into a worse problem, I dropped the bike off at the shop and took the bus & train into work.

  3. Elizabeth June 14, 2010 12:49 pm 

    @ MikeOnBike – the lanes I photographed aren’t new – just new markings. You’re right about the door zone but at least they designate space for cyclists on the road. It’s a step in the right direction.

  4. MikeOnBike June 14, 2010 2:27 pm 

    Elizabeth, I have to disagree. Those lanes designate the worst possible space for cyclists on the road. That bike lane is the one place on the road that cyclists SHOULD NOT BE. That’s a giant step in the wrong direction.

    Cyclist should never be in the door zone. And we should certainly not be encouraging door zone riding by designating it as “space for cyclists”. Nor celebrating such markings.

    If that’s the only “space for cyclists” we can find on a road, then we’re saying that motorists have top priority and cyclists get whatever unusable space is left over.

    If we really want to do something useful for cyclists, remove the on-street parking. Or put some sharrows down the center of the travel lane (completely outside the door zone) to indicate that cyclists and motorists have equal priority.

  5. Elizabeth June 14, 2010 2:40 pm 

    MikeOnBike – I’ve had the idea for bike lanes in the middle of the road — but that can lead to other problems, too. For me, I’ll take that extra space — since there are many roads too narrow for even a door zone. Removing the on-street parking would be even better. I always ride the outside line of the bike lane (hovering that delicate edge of door zone/car lane).

    In Chicago we are working towards bike boulevards = no cars… how nice that would/will be.

    As evidenced by all the bike commuters I saw riding this morning, the infrastructure needs to improve.

  6. Bcyclelogical June 14, 2010 3:21 pm 

    Bike lanes are a major step in the right direction! The education and enforcement should be out there to let the drivers know to check mirrors before they open the door, or get out on the passenger side. It is illegal for a driver to get out of the car if there is a car or bike in that path, but the education needs to get to the drivers. The answer is not to get rid of the bike lanes, but to get this education and enforcement to the drivers. We should increase bike lanes in Chicago and Oak Park 10 fold!

  7. MikeOnBike June 14, 2010 4:21 pm 

    Elizabeth, what problems do you see with giving cyclists and motorists equal priority to the only usable space on the road? Why isn’t that better than “riding the delicate edge”? Cyclists are drivers, not circus performers. πŸ˜‰

    Bcyclelogical, you’ll never get 100% compliance. For one thing, rear seat passengers don’t have mirrors. There’s no way to make the door zone usable for cycling.

    Door zone bike lanes say that cyclists are #3 priority, after motorists (#1) and parked cars (#2). That’s not empowerment, that’s marginalization.

  8. Dottie June 14, 2010 5:24 pm 

    @MikeOnBike – I understand your view and agree with the concepts behind it, but in practice the best places to ride in Chicago are roads with bike lanes. I get more respect and some breathing room, though I ride on the outer strip of the lane to avoid doors.

  9. Steve A June 14, 2010 5:28 pm 

    The obvious solution is to stop using public throughfares and taxes to subsidize car storage (parking). Make that road four lanes with the right lane as a sharrow, and not only are the cyclist death traps gone, but motorized throughput is greater as well. Is there some reason people should not pay the costs of storing their vehicles instead of expecting Dottie to do it?

  10. Ghost Rider June 14, 2010 8:12 pm 

    I hug the outer edge of the bike lane (where available — none in the door zone on my route) because I can…and also to force the hand of Florida’s 3-foot rule. Even if I’m in my lane, cars are required to give me those 3 feet, and that extra space is luxurious! Almost like I have an entire travel lane to myself!

    If only people followed the 3-foot rule… The above is just a pipe dream.

  11. Adrian June 14, 2010 8:49 pm 

    Those bike lanes are a disgrace – worse than nothing at all because to ride the street safely you now have to ride outside them, thus engendering motorist complaints that you should be in the bike lane.

    The only way to make those bike lanes safe would be to relocate the bike stencil from the right of the line to the left of the line.

  12. Rebecca June 15, 2010 3:56 am 

    @MikeonBike and @Adrian: Bike lanes create more of a presence and awareness for bikes and until Chicago is able to engineer separated bike lanes, it’s the best option. According to basic bike safety tips, if you ride in the outer 1/3 of the lane, then you will be out of the door zone and even more visible to drivers.

    ALSO, I’ve read studies that say that putting a bike lane on a street naturally calms the traffic and drivers instinctively will give a few feet between the bike lane stripe and their car, unlike a sharrow that is more undefined.

    All cyclists should support bike lanes and all drivers should support cyclists. We’re all in this together and I believe bike lanes are definitely imperative to the movement.

  13. Rebecca June 15, 2010 4:00 am 

    Oh and one more thing….. @Adrian: If there is ever a reason that you are not safe in a bike lane, broken glass, pothole, a car, pedestrian, door, etc. please know that you have the legal right to take the lane just like a car would. This is because bicycles are INTENDED USERS of the road. Know your rights and be proud!

  14. kate June 15, 2010 9:35 am 

    elizabeth–totally unrelated to this post but i was trying to write you for a feature i’m working on for competitor magazine and wasn’t sure if my email went to the right place. if you check this and could email me at, i’d really appreciate it. thanks!

    kate :)

  15. MikeOnBike June 15, 2010 9:47 am 

    Dottie and Rebecca, if the only usable part of the bike lane is the outer 1/3 or outer stripe, then they should be painted that way. Of course, that’s only about a foot or two of usable space, if you don’t mind barely missing the door zone while passing cars barely miss you.

    Here’s why the door zone is a problem:

    Better yet, if we want to do something symbolic and empowering for cyclists, put sharrows entirely outside the door zone. On a road like that, the sharrows should be centered in the travel lane, indicating that cyclists have equal right to the entire lane. Faster traffic must change lanes to pass.

    Here’s a fancy example:

    Or remove the parking.

    Accepting door-zone bike lanes for their symbolism means that we accept third-class status on that road, with free flowing cars being #1 and free parking being #2. That doesn’t help the cycling movement, it marginalizes and trivializes it.

    It’s time for cyclists to be pickier about facilities. We should no longer accept being shoved into a tiny sliver of the roadway for the benefit of motorists.

  16. bridget June 17, 2010 8:37 am 

    I love my hour commute from Rogers Park to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Having biked to work in D.C. and London, North Chicago is the most bike friendly metropolitan area so far. I do avoid bike lanes & take back alleys & residential streets with stop signs instead. The drivers I’ve encountered over the two months since I’ve moved here are very curtious – it is quite refreshing.

  17. meligrosa June 27, 2010 2:05 am 

    bikes+hearts+ blogs
    our love for bicyccles and a better future is universal
    go chicago!! fun post, thanks for sharing πŸ˜€

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