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Tag Archive: Chicago

Women in Cycling return to the pre- National Bike Summit lineup

My first full day in D.C. in early March (following an evening bike ride and Women & Bicycles party) ushered in the 2nd annual National Women’s Bicycling Forum held just before the National Bike Summit. The National Women’s Bicycling Forum brought more than 350 attendees rallying around the theme “Women Mean Business”.

As summarized on the League of American Bicyclist’s site

“this all-day event showcased women leaders and entrepreneurs in the bicycle industry and highlighted the economic impact and rising influence of women in the bicycle movement.

The Forum included keynote addresses from industry pioneer Georgena Terry, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, as well as break-out sessions, a Women Bike Pop-up Shop and plenty of networking.”

Elizabeth with NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan (JSK)

For the fun of it – following the keynote addresses – the New York Bike Dancers graced the luncheon audience with a lively performance:

A year ago, the first ever National Women Cycling Forum in 2012 was simply a 2-hour panel discussion the afternoon before the start of the National Bike Summit. For 2013, it has become a full-day of speakers and break-out sessions… overwhelming in such a good way. So many inspiring female leaders in the bike industry and who work in their communities shared their ideas for how to inspire more women to bike, and the day marked a celebration of the unique (and enhanced) perspective females give to cycling.

A breakout session panel. All sessions were full of attendees.

Add to that the pop-up shops featuring female vendors in the bike industry – each showcasing their wares with distinctive flare.

follow the Women Bike movement

In the spirit of the day – there was even an impromptu photo booth to express bike love:

accessories for the bike photo booth

[Note: this forum was not a repeat of the National Women’s Bicycling Summit (which was held last September in Long Beach).]

The result of this Forum?
“As a take-away for Forum participants and folks around the country, the group created a hand-out with 11 tips to engage more women in your cycling events.”

Nationwide women’s events are already forming and growing, such as the Venus de Miles Ride and CycloFemme.

CycloFemme Pledge:

Take the CycloFemme Pledge

Here in Chicago, our very own grassroots Women Bike Chicago has already formed… and hosted its very first Women Bike Chicago Forum (more to come in a separate post). More fun events to engage women biking in Chicago are in the works… along with planning already underway for a bigger and better Women Bike Chicago Forum in 2014. I was privileged to bring back ideas and energy from D.C. to Chicago; I hope all the people who in attended this National Women’s Bicycling Forum returned to their respective communities with energy to inspire women and all cyclists where they live.

For all you females (and males) now inspired to get more women on bikes in your community – the League may be able to help fund your ideas. Find out more about applying for a mini-grant.

Next up… the Women Bike Pop-Up Shops

From Chicago to D.C. for a kick-off of Women & Bicycles and the National Bike Summit

This past March I ventured (for the second year) to Washington, D.C. for the National Bike Summit.

For those of you unable to attend the event “in-person” I hope that the insights of these next few posts about the National Bike Summit may inspire you to go in future years or to at least check out the presentations now available online for your viewing pleasure.

This year “more than 750 attendees from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces participated in the 2013 National Bike Summit!”

Let’s start from the beginning…

Upon my arrival in D.C. (much chillier this year and not a cherry blossom in bloom!), I perked up at sight of the bright red Capital Bikeshare bikes.
capital bikeshare bikes

I, however, passed by the bikeshare bikes; instead I borrowed a bike from Miriam’s friend (who graciously lent me her bike “Cherry” last year and this year – thank you!).
Cherry

Once on bike, I was equipped to join an evening bike ride organized by the group Black Women Bike. Bundled up, we cycled past several D.C. monuments before circling back to a launch party for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)’s Women & Bicycles campaign – an outreach and education program geared to get more women on bike.

The event was full of bike love:

Plus books and such from Elly Blue and WABA:

My initial day in D.C. would set the pace for a jam-packed week of everything bike advocacy and meeting awesome bikey folks… especially meeting these other fine ladies named “Elizabeth”:

Ladies named Elizabeth

Friday Musing – know your local bike law?

Last Friday a post about an obscure traffic law that punishes cyclists graced the Streetsblog Chicago site.

The debate continued offline during a friendly chat I had with a local Chicago attorney who represents cyclists involved in crashes. The question is to what degree are cyclists held to the true letter of the law – and in this case – are bikes not allowed to pass cars on the right???

Of course – there have been differing interpretations of this particular law – including a lawyer who says yes, bicyclists may pass on the right.

The specific law in question regards the following:

Section 11-704(b) of the Illinois Vehicle Code, which reads in part:

The driver of a 2 wheeled vehicle may not pass upon the right of any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless the unobstructed pavement to the right of the vehicle being passed is of a width of not less than 8 feet.

Our resident Ghost Rider points out that with any traffic law there’s no blanket “right way” – it’s a state-by-state, municipality-by-municipality issue. What’s legal in CA is wholeheartedly illegal another state, and vice versa.

As noted in this Streetsblog post –

In 2010, California’s legislature revised their passing-on-right statute to fix its ambiguity, and now Illinois advocacy groups are gearing up to push for a similar change at home.

So what can we do? Always “check your own local laws” first. In Chicago, the city has a web page dedicated to its local bike laws. The state advocacy group in Illinois – the League of Illinois Bicyclists – also has a pdf available on its site of the IL state bike laws.

So do a check with your local city/state laws. If nothing else, such stories are an excellent reminder for all commuters (cyclists and motorists alike) to become familiar with the laws that govern their actions in their areas.

Anyone have any oddball law examples to share from your own state and/or your travels around other countries?

We came across a few oddball examples we found to share with you this Friday:

* In Georgia no bicycle shall be equipped, modified, or altered in such a way as to cause the pedal in its lowermost position to be more than 12 inches above the ground, nor shall any bicycle be operated if so equipped. (see weird law #8)

* Bicycles are not allowed in the tennis courts in the state of Idaho

* Ontario, Canada, has several bikes laws with hefty fines (up to $85CAD), including a bike must have a bell or horn in good working order and must signal their turns.
(Jack’s written about a similar bike bell law in Tampa, FL)

* In Fort Scott, KS, “everyone, whether a resident of Fort Scott, or a visitor to town, is required to register their bicycle.”

* And in Sun Prairie, WI, No rider of a bicycle shall remove both hands from the handlebars or practice any trick or fancy riding in any street in the city nor shall any bicycle rider carry or ride any other person so that two persons are on the bicycle at one time, unless a seat is provided for a second person.

We covered bike laws 5 years ago right here on BikeCommuters.comHow long will it take for some of these crazy (out-of-date) laws to change?

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…