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Tag Archive: chicagoland bicycle federation

Chicago’s Bike to Work Week challenges commuters

Are you ready for this year’s bike commuter challenge? National Bike to Work Day may have been on May 15, but Chicagoans get competitive about bike commuting in mid-June, after getting primed with May’s Bike the Drive.

The Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) “challenges” companies and workers to bike to work at least once during Chicago’s June Bike to Work Week (June 13-19).

In fact, they sum up the challenge by asking “Does your company have what it takes?”

If your company accepts the challenge, then ATA’s Bike Commuter Challenge offers companies the chance to compete with other businesses to see which can get the most employees to bike to work during Bike to Work Week, June 13-19. As of this posting, 320 teams had registered.

For those seasoned bike commuters and the newbies alike, ATA has a helpful list of resources to help any team get ready for the challenge of bike commuting.

In this era of being eco-conscious, this year’s bike to work week is getting recognition not only from athletic sites and blogs, but also from environmental blogs, including Chicago’s edition of A Fresh Squeeze.

So Many Bikes…. Biking the Drive

Sometimes when asking the question “which bike do I buy?” it’s fun to take a look at what other cyclists are riding.

beginning

At Sunday’s Bike the Drive in Chicago an estimated 18,000 cyclists came out to cycle along a car-free Lake Shore Drive from sunrise to 10am. From racing roadies doing laps on the mostly pothole free surface to visitors who rented bikes and every cyclist in between, the Active Transportation Alliance‘s (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) largest fundraiser of the year did attract quite a mix of cyclists and their bikes.
family skyline

hand cyclists

roadie

rental bikes

recumbant

At the rest stop, cyclists even found peace in yoga amidst the thousands gathered.
yoga

But like all good things, even Bike the Drive had to end… prematurely for some as bike traffic was routed off the Drive and back to the bike path to finish the route…
the end

Luckily the post-ride festival offered a chance to relax and ‘chill’ with a cycle powered “pedal your smoothie” and all the new biking buddies you met along the way.
smoothie

Book Review: “Pedal Power” by J. Harry Wray

Based on a recommendation from one of our readers (thanks, Mindy!), I just completed reading Pedal Power: The Quiet Rise of the Bicycle in American Public Life by J. Harry Wray (Boulder, Colo: Paradigm Publishers, 2008).

Pedal Power

I posted a passage that really resonated with me in a previous article…great food for thought.

This book is a socio-political overview of the many advocacy groups, politicians and assorted bike-friendly clubs throughout the United States who are making real differences in terms of supporting the creation and maintenance of bicycle infrastructure, championing cyclists’ rights to the roads and fostering a growing bicycle culture here. The author is a professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago and is known for taking his students on bicycle rides throughout the city to instill in them a sense of “how politics, economics and the environment combine to affect culture and be affected by it” (Pedal Power: “About the Author”).

Wray begins by discussing the perceptional differences between motorists and bicycle users…how bicyclists tend to be more aware of their surroundings and thus more likely to notice changes and problems (and addressing them when discovered). Using a bicycle as transportation in any city fosters a sense of community — and encourages the use of undiscovered and underappreciated public spaces that are completely foreign to motorists who spend most of their traveling time in their air-conditioned “private bubbles”, insulated from the world around them. Much of that will come as no shock to those of you who are regular commuters; we tend to “see” our surroundings differently because we are out in it every day, sometimes off the beaten path and in places most motorists will never travel.

Wray talks about the needed cultural shift in our society in order to make bicycling seen as a more sensible transportation choice in American cities. With our growing interest in leaving consumer-based, wasteful lifestyles behind, many Americans are starting to wake up to a more “European Dream, with its emphasis on inclusivity, diversity, quality of life, sustainability, deep play, universal human rights and the rights of nature, and peace” (p. 78). The bicycle, suggests Wray,

“…is caught up in this culture storm. In some ways the dominant culture seeks to domesticate the bike by turning it into one more variant of commodity fetishism, but most of those in the bike movement see it differently. A decision to ride a bike is a very individualistic decision in our culture. But the bike deepens one’s sense of connection to others. It is also a statement about limits and sustainability. As it assimilates the bike, the culture also accomodates to it. Cultural change is necessary in order for the bike to be widely adopted as a transportation alternative. At the same time, however, increased use of the bike stimulates cultural change.”

The author then spends some time talking about the Mecca of bicycle-friendly cities: Amsterdam. He discusses how cycling became such a dominant transportation choice there (and it wasn’t always the case there…it is a fairly recent phenomenon in the grand scheme of things). He talks about what changes were made and how they were supported there to make bicycling such an incredible force.

Then, he spends a few chapters covering some of the well-known bicycle advocacy groups, both on the national level (League of American Bicyclists and the Thunderhead Alliance) and regional or city-based groups (Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, Bike Portland, and others). He also introduces the reader to a variety of national, state and local-level politicians who are making real changes in how bicycles are treated during transportation planning and implementation — all the heavy hitters such as Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Anne Paulsen of Massachusetts, and Mayor Jerry Abramson of Louisville, Kentucky (yes, Louisville…they’ve got it going on down there!), among others.

This is an incredibly enjoyable and powerful book; it is never dry or overwhelmingly academic as I first feared…and is one that I feel should be required reading for newly-elected politicians entering office. In order for bicycling to thrive as a real transportation alternative in American cities, we need more bike-riding politicians on our sides — working from the inside to help create more bike-friendly communities. The book also suggests that the many smaller advocacy groups could possibly be better served by joining forces with each other and massing their muscle to get things done. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about how the bicycle is slowly changing the way Americans live their lives.

This book may or may not be available at your local public library — I had to borrow it through inter-library loan (thanks, Nova Southeastern University Libraries!), but had just enough pull with our book selectors at my library to order a copy for our collection. Power to the people!

Chicago’s “Bike the Drive”

For the past seven years, the City of Chicago and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation have teamed up to put on their “Bike the Drive” fundraiser ride, which takes place on the scenic and historic Lake Shore Drive along the edge of Lake Michigan. Money raised goes to supporting the incredible bicycle advocacy efforts of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. And, this money must be going to good use, because Chicago is quickly becoming one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the U.S.!

Sears Tower
Sears Tower in the distance

Our friend Elizabeth Adamczyk was there this year (on Memorial Day weekend) to take photos and to share a little bit of the ride. She said it was a beautiful sunny day — perfect for a ride along this route!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth poses for the camera

She even managed to catch some Footbikers!

Footbikes

One year soon I hope to make my way up to Chicago to take part in this ride — it sounds and looks like a blast, and we’d like to thank Elizabeth for forwarding these photos to share.