BikeCommuters.com

Author Archive: Elizabeth

Orp Smart Horn – soon to be tested here

Orp in red. Also comes in asphalt black, frostbyte white, safety cone orange, wail blue, snot green, and worm white (glorp)

With 5 days to go on this Orp Kickstarter campaign, the Orp Smart Horn is soon to go into production and we’ll be getting one to test!

As a safety conscious cyclist I value that this product attempts to make cyclists both more visible and audible on the roadways.

THE IDEA: Make bikers more visible and /or more “hearable”.
THE SOLUTION: A combination dual tone, high decibel bike horn and front beacon light.
Meet Orp.

As creator Tory Orzeck says on the page:

“Really long story short, we developed this super loud, dual decibel horn. Only after that did we discover the Piezo speaker and its circuitry barely taxed the battery to drive the sound. Sitting right there in front of us, we had everything we needed to add LEDs. So, we ended up combining two products: a beacon light and a horn into one small and (we think) beautiful product.”

This product was thought up in Portland and we’ll certainly put it to the test in Chicago.

Just the other night I was nearly right-hooked by a driver insistent on getting into the right lane to make a turn. He had just passed me and then nearly pulled in front of me. Not even my two front LED blinkies and bell got his attention; my yelling and the screeching of my squealing brakes did get his attention – “WHA…WHOA…LOOK OUT!” (or something to that effect)


Orp’s Horn has 2 modes: soft and WAY loud

The Wail Tail is the ergonomic and intuitive switch controlling the horn.

When you need to alert other cyclists or pedestrians, a small displacement {up or down} of Orp’s Wail Tail produces a friendly chirp at 76 decibels.

When you’re in traffic, and you need to let cars know where you are, then just push a little harder {up or down} and Orp’s “HERE I AM!” sound emits an ear blistering 96 decibels. This is FAR louder than the most popular bike bells.

I could use a horn!

Winter riding – suicidal? Just bring on the mittens and snow goggles!

We’ve hardly had much “winter riding” lately in Chicago. Just this Monday and Tuesday, temps hovered in the 50s and 60s! But the rollercoaster, topsy turvy weather ride has plunged us back down to real winter temps and now our Chicago temps only hover at or below 0-degrees with windchill… bringing back the need to properly layer for the daily bike commute.

For me – the cold, sub-zero windchills mean it’s a snow goggles and mittens kind of “BRRRR!” (BRRR as in BRRRRING IT ON!)

No skin exposed on the “BRRR”-est of days


My body is cozy – covered in layers of a wool base layer and a thick cashmere or wool turtleneck sweater. My legs also get a nice wool base layer and then just khakis (sometimes I add a wind pants layer – especially in wet/messy condition) and thick wool hiking socks under my BOGS boots. My head = no skin exposed; I use a double-layer balaclava system (one thinner one pulled up over my nose), plus goggles, plus helmet on top! Over all that is my hi-vis yellow commuter jacket to block the wind. Wool gloves covered by big primaloft mitts and I’m ready to roll.

I’m more bundled than the average pedestrian, plus I’m generating body heat – more than the mere walker.. and I’m definitely warmer than the person just standing there waiting for the bus or train.

So – when I saw a post by “He Who Knows” on local Chicago suburban social site entitled “Bicyclists are insane riding in winter’s deep freeze!” and claiming that winter riding is suicidal, I had to chuckle. Seriously? He Who Knows certainly doesn’t know much about cold weather activity outdoors. On the other hand, we who know layer appropriately and reap the benefits of year-round cycling in any weather.

Should we be surprised by such a general posting by someone who is clearly not a cyclist? Isn’t this what happens when anyone and everyone can post their opinion online? “He Who Knows” likely has no authority on the topic. Though I do find his take humorous… since it is just so ridiculous! But just to clarify and set the record straight for would-be winter bike commuters, do not take his statements seriously… Based on this guy’s opinion, I would have killed myself cycling through winter years ago.

Take it from this guy in New York who bikes (even in winter) 40 miles to work in Manhattan!

I’m alive and well to let you know that – even on the harshest of days – cycling brings me sanity.

Ride on…

2013 Joys of Bikes Calendar

Each year I design and post calendars for sale and donate all proceeds to the Ride of Silence to advocate for sharing the roads and honor all fallen cyclists.

2013 is already upon us, and the calendars are available. You know you need a bike-themed calendar for your office space, your kitchen, your garage, your bike area, etc. Also make great gifts!

2013 Joys of Bikes Calendar
Buy a Joys of Bikes calendar and show your support for the annual Ride of Silence – May 15, 2013 (always the third Wednesday in May and clearly labeled on this calendar so you won’t forget).

In addition to the bike-themed calendar, I’ve also created a Chicago and a Flowers calendar:

Proceeds from the sales of all calendars benefit the Ride of Silence

Proceeds from the sales of all calendars benefits the Ride of Silence

Thanks for your support!

Public Meetings announced for Chicago Bike Share Input

For those of you interested in helping to build a great bike share program in Chicago:

First public meetings are next Monday and Tuesday OR chime in online.

CITY TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETINGS TO DISCUSS PLANS FOR NEW CHICAGO BIKE SHARE PROGRAM

Chicagoans Can Suggest Bike Share Station Locations on New Website

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today announced five public meetings to introduce Chicago residents and businesses to the city’s new bike share program, and has launched a website for Chicagoans to suggest locations for bike share stations.

“Bike share will introduce a new way to get around Chicago. It’s fast, convenient, and affordable,” said CDOT Commissioner, Gabe Klein. “We look forward to feedback from the public and generating excitement for this new way of getting around Chicago.”

At the meetings in late October and early November, representatives from CDOT and Alta, the bicycle provider and operator, will discuss the new program and answer questions. Attendees can suggest locations to install bike stations in the proposed service area.

Chicagoans can also use a new website — www.chicagobikes.org/bikeshare — to suggest locations for bike stations and receive additional information on the program.

Chicago’s initial bike share service area will span from 41st Street to Montrose Avenue, and from the lakefront to Damen Avenue. The meetings will be held in the North, South and Central regions of the service area. They are free and open to everyone, with no RSVP required. All meeting locations are accessible by CTA.

Chicago Bike Share Meetings:

Monday, October 29
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 S. Michigan Avenue

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Pop-up meeting at Union Station

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 S. Michigan Avenue

Tuesday, October 30
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Lincoln Belmont Public Library
1659 W. Melrose Street

Wednesday, November 7
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Charles Hayes Center
4859 S. Wabash Avenue

Chicago’s bike share system will provide a convenient, easy-to-use transit option available 24/7. It is envisioned for point-to-point short trips, or as alternative option for a multi-mode commute. Users will pick up a bike from a self-service docking station and return it to the station nearest their destination.

The specially designed bikes will be comfortable for all users. Features include a one-size fits all design, upright handlebars, wide seats, hand brakes, and a chain guard to protect clothing.

Membership and user fees will be affordable for Chicagoans and visitors alike. Users will be able to purchase yearly memberships or daily passes. Members will sign up via a website, while one-time cyclists will use a credit card at the automated kiosk.

The solar-powered docking stations will be placed approximately a quarter-mile apart and located in high-density areas, including near transit stations. CDOT will work with the operator and the public to determine station locations. Stations are modular and mobile; they can be expanded in reaction to demand, or moved based on need or construction. Initial funding for the program is from federal grants for projects that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

People are encouraged to visit www.chicagobikes.org/bikeshare to learn more about the program, and follow CDOT on Twitter (@ChicagoDOT) and Facebook.com/CDOTnews.

Commuter Profile: Dave Simmons

Name: Dave Simmons

Dave goofing around on a bike that was raffled off at the Tour of Elk Grove

How long have you been a bike commuter?
20 years. I’ve commuted by bike since high school. I used to commute to my after school jobs, then at

Dave created a Lego version of himself

college, and finally to my job.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
I started biking to work at my last job for the exercise, to pollute less, and save money (and wear and tear on the car). Now that I work closer to home, it’s a no-brainer. I bike to work almost year-round.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?
Biking to work has saved me some serious cash over the years. I haven’t quantified it, but if I had to guess, it’s somewhere in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. I’ve always been active, so biking fits my lifestyle quite well. Biking has been great to my family too. My wife and kids bike quite a bit. The kids don’t even realize how much it helps them in sports from a conditioning standpoint. Cyclists are definitely a different breed. I’ve met quite a variety of cyclists over the years and have built a nice network of like-minded individuals.

Dave & family sporting their Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove shirts

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?
I am the manager of Technical Production Services at Riverside Publishing. I bike from Elk Grove Village and commute to Rolling Meadows. I have a great route – through Busse Woods each day.

Dave's commute on a foggy morning through Busse Woods. A good part of his route includes the trail at Busse Woods. He used to commute from Elk Grove to Skokie!

What kind(s) of bike do you have?
I have a 1993 Trek 820 mountain bike and a 2002 Felt SR81 road bike. The majority of my miles are on the Trek. I love the stability of the steel beast!

All smiles on a ride in central IL in 2010

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?
I bike through Busse Woods even during the winter. Of course, I don’t always leave work before dark. I really enjoy biking at night (with a bright LED headlight, of course), but the forest preserves are closed at dusk. So, there have been lots of times when I’m racing along the trail while being hollered at by the police to leave. That makes for a more exciting ride home.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
They are very interested in how I make it all work. So many people think that commuting by bike is difficult, but that’s just not true. I tell them that, in order to commute by bike, they have to stop thinking like a motorist. The route that is best for cars is not always best for bikes.

How about bicycling advocacy?
Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups? I started the Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove. We’re a local advocacy group that is working to “promote, support, and improve cycling in Elk Grove”. We’ve been around for just about a year and have made some real progress in the community. I am excited about the future of FCEG. Aside from that, I am a member of Active Transportation Alliance, League of Illinois Bicyclists, and League of American Bicyclists.

The cycling advocacy group he created, the Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove

Anything else that you want to share with us?
I was certified as a League Cycling Instructor (LCI) since 2009. I’ve had the opportunity to teach cyclists of all ages the benefits of Smart Cycling. I see education as the most important piece of advocacy. The most enjoyable aspect of being an LCI is teaching first time riders, most of who are adults.

A photo of the Traffic Skills 101 class Dave taught on 9/16/12

To see the smile of someone who just learned to ride a bike is truly priceless!

Dave with his nephew after he taught him how to ride a two-wheeler

Thank you, Dave, for sharing your commuting story and photos with us. If you’d like your glory of minor Internet stardom, just drop us a line at elizabeth [at] bikecommuters [dot] com and we’ll send you the details about sending in your own profile!