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Make It Reflective Workshop

Chicago bike commuters are gearing up for Bike Winter with a “Make It Reflective Workshop” this upcoming Monday, December 5.

As posted on the event listing:

Have Fun While Making You and Your Bike More Visible!

Join us for our annual Make It Reflective Workshop:
Learn about passive vs. active visibility, get tips on what to use and where to place it, update your favorite coat or bag with extra-sparkly visibility.

Who: Experienced cyclists who sew will help make both you and your bike the most obvious moving vehicle on the road.

What: Bring what you want modified (bikes, clothing, bags, outerwear, helmets, etc.)

Where: Active Transportation Alliance at 9 W. Hubbard St. (4th floor)

When: Dec. 5th from 5:00 pm until 9 pm (stay as long as you like, but plan on at least 15 minutes per item being modified).

Cost: $5 (donations are greatly appreciated to help defray the costs of materials).

For more information, contact Jane Healy at repto at aol dot com.

This workshop is the second one this season; I missed the first one held on November 6 – just in time for the time change and onset of more darkness.

And such an event is just one of many events already on the Bike Winter calendar.

bike winter sticker 2012

Chicago’s Bike the Drive not dampened by the rains

I’m back from a long weekend of being out on my bike — and away from my computer. Hope you enjoyed some riding (maybe a ride-a-day – non-commuter type rides – weekend like I did) this Memorial Day weekend.

Despite the rains and storms that blew over the midwest on Saturday and Sunday, the mornings remained dry enough.

Even the fog over Chicago couldn’t keep 20,000 bicyclists from riding along a car-free Lake Shore Drive on Sunday morning for the Active Transportation Alliance’s annual fundraiser Bike the Drive. The rains held out until just after the ride concluded and completely dampened the post-ride festival. But the spirits of all who came out were not dampened. In fact, everyone just seemed happy. Must be all the bikes. Seeing so many bikes – all kinds ridden by all ages and all types of bicyclists – is such a wonder for me still. Who needs the views of Chicago’s skyline or of Lake Michigan when you can just watch all the beautiful bikes “biking the drive”?

I’ll share a few of the scenic photos captured during the 2011 Bike the Drive. See my post from last year to compare the weather conditions and see what you can’t see in this year’s photos.

People came – by bike and by car – despite the low-lying morning fog
arriving

Chopper bikes:
chopper bikes

Hi-vis clothing definitely stands out in this fog!
hi-vis

Despite the chill and fog, I always enjoy this annual event
me at btd

Cargo bike
cargo

Sharing the ride:
kids

kid-pink

dino helmet

tandem

Chicago’s Bike Patrol Officers along for the ride, too:
bike patrol

The Schwinntonations provided unforgettable music at the Museum of Science and Industry Rest Stop:
schwinntonations
Check out their music videos.

Riding over the Chicago River:
chicago river

Our Chicago skyline:
city

After the rain – the festival area was just a wet soppy mess.
rain soaked

Thank you, Active Trans, for organizing another great Bike the Drive! Here’s to a great summer of biking for everyone.

Mark your calendars for Saturday’s Chicago Cycle Swap

This Saturday, February 26, 2011, the Chicago Cycle Swap returns for a second year, proceeds directly benefiting Chicago’s nonprofit the Active Transportation Alliance and Chicago’s Bike Winter. The event is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. Admission is $10 (cash only) at the door, but print out this coupon a $5 savings.
chicago cycle swap
OR – take advantage of a special deal from the Active Transportation Alliance: “In the spirit of our community building goal, we are offering a special on Active Trans membership to support our nonprofit work improving biking, walking and transit in our region…$20 gets you into the Swap plus a one-year Active Trans Premium membership including the Chicagoland Bike Map and all the other benefits.

More than 50 bike shops, merchants, nonprofits and individuals will be at this cycle swap offering great deals and all are previewed online to help you plan ahead. Individuals looking to buy or sell a bike will have the opportunity to do just that. The event will host a bike corral where bike shops and individuals can sell bikes along with what’s available at their booths. “Our guess is that there will be at least 120 bikes for sale at the Swap and that’s probably a low-end estimate,” said Ethan Spotts, Director of Marketing & Communications at Active Trans. Want to sell a bike? If there’s space available, attendees can pay admission plus $5 per bike, limit of three bikes, to place them in the corral with a price tag.

This year’s cycle swap is being held at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse which can easily be reached by bike and public transportation. Please note that this venue is different from last year’s inaugural swap which was held at Jak’s Tap. Spotts says of the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse that “It’s a classic Chicago Park District venue that’s been used by groups like Break the Gridlock for their conference in the past and it’s close to major bike routes, great transit and the highway for people coming from outside of Chicago. Another key venue requirement for us was to be able to work with Goose Island Catering to offer food, coffee and beer (and soda).”

Don’t feel like shopping all day? A full lineup of presentations and demos are scheduled to give you (and your wallet) a break throughout the day.

Unlike other bike swaps, “We’ve built it as a grassroots community event bringing together local bike shops, merchants, vendors, nonprofits and the public instead of a corporate-style bike show,” says Spotts. “We wanted to keep it low cost for everyone, vendors and attendees, while ensuring we could cover our costs enough to make a donation to our partner Chicago Bike Winter.”

If you’re riding, be mindful that bike racks may fill quickly (especially if the weather is decent); bring your lock.

See you at the Swap.

Happy Winter Bike to Work Day (in Chicago at least)

Historically in Chicago January 20 marks the coldest day on record — when temps registered 27 degrees (F) below zero at O’Hare International Airport.

In honor of the dedicated cyclists who keep the pedals turning during these cooler temperatures, Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance is hosting a celebration this morning for bike commuters. Today we don’t have the below zero temperatures (yet) but it’s still chilly out there.

Happy Winter Bike to Work Day from Chicago!

As posted on the Active Trans calendar:

Bike by the Federal Plaza in Chicago’s Loop on Jan. 20 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for the annual celebration of cyclists who don’t let cooler temperatures stop them from pedaling to work.

The Active Trans warming tent will provide riders with Caribou coffee and tea plus our traditional Eli’s Cheesecake. This event commemorates coldest day in Chicago history—Jan. 20, 1985, when the official temperature at O’Hare International Airport was 27 degrees below zero. Federal Plaza is located at Adams Street and Dearborn Street in the Loop.

Get a Grip Cycles will be at the event showing off winter gear and offering free adjustments, West Town Bikes will be pumping out the tunes with its sound system trailer and Chicago Bike Winter will be offering free fleece headwear. Representatives from the Chainlink website also will be on hand to introduce cyclists to their resources.

For more winter riding events and tips, check out the resources organized by winter cyclists on the Bike Winter website.

All lit up… like a Christmas Tree?

Now that daylight savings time has ended and most of us in the U.S. have “fallen back” to standard time, many more of us face dark commutes home. But – on the bright side – literally – we have daylight again for the commute to work in the morning. The fall back could not have occurred for me at a better time, since I had to be at work earlier than usual on Monday morning and was so glad to have the sun grace my commute in.

But the evening commute is all dark. My route typically takes me through an area of Chicago with many tourists. I found myself grinning from ear to ear upon hearing a couple of businessmen comment to each other, “Look – she’s all lit up like a Christmas Tree” and then to me they said, “There’s no way you won’t be seen.” That’s the point – to be seen and hopefully be safer in the dark. My helmet has a Cateye Opticube headlight strapped to the top and a Planet Bike Superflash secured to the back (with a small kitty collar), along with reflective tape and stickers along the side.

My fellow cyclists get creative when it comes to being seen, and I admired this woman’s hi-vis rear reflectors and lights! What a great use of old CDs.

Yesterday I read a post on the Bicycle Victoria site about visibility and was surprised to read “Riders seem generally have a poor understanding of what makes them visible.” The article went on to state: “Reflective vests, rated highly by many riders, were nowhere near as effective as reflective strips worn on the ankles and knees‹which riders thought poorly of.” And it rated flashing lights as most effective.

I never assume any driver sees me, so I just use a combination of visibility tactics – hi-vis jacket or vest, flashing lights front and back and reflectors.

My next addition to my bike will be a Fiber Flare, which should add even more 360-degree visibiltiy.

In Chicago, it’s the law for cyclists to have a headlight on their bikes after dark and at least a rear reflector. The Active Transportation Alliance recently ran a campaign to raise funds for headlight distribution to cyclists. Don’t be surprised to volunteers out there – flash mob style – in the attempt to equip more than 200 cyclists with free headlights and educate cyclists about staying safe on the street after dark.

If you need some advice as to what the differences between all those lighting choices are, Noah’s recent review of lighting systems should help you assess your lighting needs to get all lit up, too.