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Tag Archive: Chicago

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!

Chicago cyclists take a stand against dooring

On a gloomy drizzly morning I was proud to be a Chicago cyclist. Friday morning reminded me of just how closely knit the cycling community here is, as a number of cyclists gathered to pay tribute to cyclists who have recently been doored.

Neill Townsend's ghost bike

This rally comes just two weeks after bike commuter Neill Townsend swerved to avoid a car door swinging open in front of him during his morning bike commute; his attempt to avoid the crash with the door (dooring) caused him to be hit by a flat bed semi coming up from behind – a fatal crash.

Neill Townsend remembered

In a stance against dooring and to raise awareness amongst motorists friends, family, colleagues and numerous local cyclists came together to plan a tribute on Friday morning – October 19 – around the same time of the morning that this dooring fatality occurred just two weeks ago. Cyclists aimed to use this gathering of cyclists at the site of the crash “as an opportunity for it to serve as a chance to raise awareness about dooring and sharing the road at a high traffic time.” (as posted in a discussion on the social network known as The Chainlink) Cyclist Clinton Miceli was also remembered; he died in 2008 in a dooring incident just blocks away from Townsend’s crash.

Community gathers at the ghost bike placement for Neill Townsend

Local media – tv, radio and newspapers – covered the well-attended event… and online articles articles went up online as of late Friday morning.

Following the gathering at the crash site, cyclists rode in silence together to the loop – Daley Plaza – in memory of Townsend and Miceli.

Unfortunately I arrived late and missed the speeches given and the stickers and fliers distributed. Stickers said “Save a Life LOOK! Check your mirrors before opening your car door” and are intended to be put on rear view mirrors.The fliers were from IDOT/CDOT: one side said “Motorists Check for Cyclists before you open your door” and on the other side “Bicyclists Be Visible at Night. Use a headlight!” A few other signs have also circulated recently about anti-dooring.

According the the Chicago Department of Transportation’s website –

Chicago currently has more than 170 miles of on-street protected, buffered and shared bike lanes, many miles of off-street paths (including the 18.5-mile Lakefront Trail), more than 13,000 bike racks, and sheltered, high-capacity, bike parking areas at many CTA rail stations.

In his letter to Chicagoans on the city’s bike website, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote:

One of my top priorities as mayor is to create a bike network that allows every Chicagoan – from kids on their first ride to senior citizens on their way to the grocery store – to feel safe on our streets.

Despite the city’s ongoing efforts to create a bike-friendly city via a comprehensive bike network, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety, reports that 577 dooring crashes were reported from 2009 through September 7, 2012.

The city continues to look for ways to improve the city’s cycling environment via Chicago’s Bike Program website.

In the meantime, fellow bike commuters, be safe out there.

Many cyclists commute south into downtown Chicago along Wells

Review: Velo Transit Module 25 Women’s backpack

We here at BikeCommuters.com have been busy reviewing some Velo Transit – waterproof packs and panniers – all Made in Seattle. As you may have seen, our writer Matt reviewed another of the Velo Transit – waterproof backpacks and the Velo Transit Metro 20 Pannier. Velo Transit also makes women specific packs and sent me a women’s Module 25 Waterproof Commuter Backpack to review; they sent me a size ‘small’ in orange.

Per their site, the specs on this women’s specific waterproof bicycle commuter backpack are as follows:

Module 25 has been significantly upgraded for 2012. We improved access with the new “Slick” Roll-Top, making it easier to get in and out without compromising waterproofness. All day comfort is guaranteed with improvements made to both the 3D Mesh back panel and ergonomic shoulder pads.

Like the 2011 version, this is the base unit of a modular bike pack. Various attachment pockets and accessories let you outfit the Module 25 for your needs and wishes. Look for these accessories to be rolled out over the coming months.

Bike specific features, like blinker mounts, reflective tape and a lock pocket are standard on the Module backpack.

This Slick Roll-Top Pack has an RF-welded liner, giving it the STORM-PROOF seal.

A 3D Mesh-lined back panel helps to dissipate sweat and along with an HDPE Frame sheet to maintain its shape and stability under load.

The Front U-Lock/ Zippered Stash Pocket gives you quick and easy access to your lock and supplies.

We are sure this will be the most comfortable and useful waterproof backpack you have ever owned.

This commuter backpack retails for $159.95 – midrange between their panniers and their urban backpack line.

Velo Transit lists the Module 25 as one of their three waterproof packs and panniers in their women’s specific line-up.

I asked the folks at Velo Transit what the difference was between the Module 25 and the Module 25 Lite bags and they responded:

“The Module Lite 25 does not have the side pocket attachment system and the D-Ring attachment points for accessory front lash straps.”

For this review they sent me this pack with the optional mesh side pocket already attached – very useful for stashing items on the fly.

Accessory Mesh side pocket

I’ve been rolling around town with this pack intermittently over the past few months and can honestly say that I like it. Despite it’s overwhelming size (even the small seemed too big for me), its voluminous capacity and ease of carrying made it a winner. For me, the width of the bag at the shoulders sometimes obscured my view when I would try to glance over my shoulder; this only occurred when I did fully load this pack. (It can haul a lot!)

Velo Transit Women's Module 25 Specs

Me with the Module 25 Backpack

Side-by-side with a pannier, this backpack has about the same hauling capacity:

Module 25 & pannier

Plus, a messenger riding in the opposite direction one morning hollered at me “Nice backpack!” (“Thanks!” as I pedaled on with a smile on my face)

For me, I appreciated the bright orange color of this pack and the reflective accents and blinker mounts (yes – multiple attachments available). This pack does come in eight different colors – so there should be a color to suit nearly everyone’s preferences (if neon orange isn’t your thing).

Reflective tabs on pack

I also liked the sleek profile of this pack. Despite its ability to carry a lot, the weight remains evenly distributed and I never felt like I was carrying too much or unbalanced. With normal backpacks I’ve used in the past, I felt like the bag just kept expanding outward…causing awkward carrying issues and shoulder pains. I was able to travel light with this pack OR load it up without any weight distribution issues. On a few occasions, I enjoyed stopping by the market on the way home for a few items without worrying about having enough space for my goods.

Profile view of the Module 25 backpack

The front zippered “stash pocket” is a great place for a U-Lock and other necessities you might need to grab on the go.

Stash front pocket

And the mesh padded back and straps further eased carrying a load and limited sweating.

Module 25 backpack straps

Best part about this Velo Transit waterproof backpack? It’s actually waterproof! (at least it was for the few times I was out in the rain with it). I used it in the rain on a day when I carried my laptop in it and the interior remained bone dry. The liner is a bright yellow – which also makes it easier to find your stuff – and it’s described as “stormproof”.

"Stormproof" Interior of Module 25

The top of this backpack rolls closed and cinches tight – so there are no seams for water to sneak in. The water just beads up on the fabric.

Beads of water on the roll-top closure

I was skeptical of riding with another backpack, after suffering from neck/shoulder pain for the past several years. This backpack never me feel like I was carrying a load and never caused me any pain. There were some days I chose to ride with this pack instead of a pannier just for the ease of on/off bike mobility with the pack.

Bottom line: the Velo Transit Module 25 is a quality backpack that can rival the carrying capacity of a pannier and is waterproof too. It gets my vote.

My only suggestion – consider offering an even smaller size pack for the “light” travel days.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.