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All SMILES at Bike the Drive

Chicago’s annual Bike the Drive event was yesterday, Sunday, May 26, 2013 – when Lake Shore Drive gets shut down to motor vehicle traffic and opened up to bicycles only for 5 hours of open riding. What great traffic — despite the chilly morning air, 20,000+ bicyclists riding over 30-miles of open roads — thank you, Active Trans.

Look ma! No cars!

Packet pick-up at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago was run like a well-oiled machine… high tech and ready to serve the thousands of riders who registered.

Packet Pick up

They even offered on-site registration … including from this overpass on the south section of Lake Shore Drive.

On-site registration from an overpass

This year I rode southbound first to the Museum of Science and Industry, pausing for a photo opp and people watching before heading back north…. but not before my morning coffee to propel me along the way

Coffee (hot and iced) offered by Chicago’s very own Dark Matter Coffee Roasters

Cheering section as riders enter Lake Shore Drive southbound

elliptigo bikes

Me and my shadow enjoying the ride

Sparkle!

Coming into the rest stop at the Museum of Science and Industry

Rest stop

Even the bikes took a chance to lay down on the grass before heading back north:

Bike nap

Meanwhile, along the lakefront bike path —

razor scooter-ing

All Chicago fans came out

Blackhawk fans

Volunteer smiles

Even the volunteers — at the job since before dawn — are full of smiles mid-morning

Park construction….

I opted not to ride too far north (since I already traverse the northern section of LSD enough and know the road conditions — ahem, potholes — are worse).

The Director of the Active Transportation Alliance takes a Divvy Bike Share bike for a test ride around the post-ride festival. Chicago’s Bike Share (Divvy) debuted at Bike the Drive.

Taking a Divvy bike share bike for a test spin


Divvy’s debut


Divvy bike share bike up close with Chicago’s 4 stars and the “sharrow” graphics


Hello, Divvy

For me the morning concluded under the “Big Top” tent where several advocacy/non-profit bike organizations and clubs had tables. I worked alongside the folks from Chicago’s online bike network – The Chainlink – and the Chicago Cycling Club; I was there with info about the annual Ride of Silence.

Ride of Silence in between The Chainlink and the Chicago Cycling Club

Also under the Big Top:

Working Bikes and folks from Northwest Indiana’s bike network South Shore Trails, plus Climate Cycle, Major Taylor Cycling Club (not in photo)

At the post-ride festival, participants could register to win a folding bike from REI, win prizes or buy a smoothie from Jamba Juice, pick up numerous samples and swag, shop for bike clothing, meet bike clubs and groups, and even climb the rock wall.

REI’s Novara folding bike up for raffle


Win a Jamba Juice smoothie?


samples…


bike gear shopping at a discount


Rock climbing in Grant Park

To be involved with the festival (setting up a table before and taking down after) gives me a greater appreciation for the scope of Bike the Drive… and any city-wide event wherever you may live that brings together so many folks for a like-minded fun activity. It’s a lot of work… and usually a LOT of fun.

This year’s party has packed up…

packing up, clearing out of the park

Hope you enjoy this year of fun bike activities (big or small).

So many cyclists… so many smiles! Please share your cycling smiles with us here or on Facebook.

Let the winter bike commuting begin

So much going on in Chicago lately… namely, it seems that winter has (finally) arrived. (Note: you will hear no complaints from this bike commuter about the mild weather and temperatures in the 40s and 50s these past few weeks…) From a few headline searches, Chicago isn’t alone in bracing for winter’s impact.

First snowy bike commute of the season

Now apparently Chicago is just gearing itself up for a true Winter Bike to Work Day this coming Friday.

As noted on the Active Transportation Alliance‘s event webpage:
Enjoy coffee and tea from Caribou and Cheesecake from Eli’s 6:30 to 9 a.m.

The first 50 bike commuters who come by the event can choose from either a free bike light or a free balaclava. Everyone who stops by can enter a raffle for a folding bike.

Winter Bike to Work Day takes place on Jan. 20, the 27th anniversary of Chicago’s coldest day, when the official temperature at O’Hare International Airport was 27 degrees below zero.

Last Thursday the city of Chicago experienced the first significant snowfall of this winter cycling season and today flurries lingered but did not accumulate. For the next few days, more so than snow, Chicagoans face the bitter cold temperatures with “real feel” temps hovering in the single digits! If you’re lucky, the windchill will just barely keep the temperatures above freezing for your commutes in on Wednesday morning.

Snow Bike - Fat Tires and Disc Brake


In anticipation of winter’s arrival, I have been lent a snow bike to test out. Last Thursday I put the snow bike to the test and she performed, especially for the ride home on Thursday over the snow covered streets.

Double-wide "fat" tires + braking power


The double-wide fat tires on this puppy – though not studded – did keep me feeling more stable on two wheels. Unfortunately such a downhill bike does not come with fender mounts, so I popped on a mudguard for spray from the underside and a rear clip-on fender to the seatpost. This bike’s front disc brakes assured me that I would have stopping power when I needed it. Neither the tires nor the brakes let me down. Unfortunately, I think the brakes need adjustment as I could notably feel resistance in the wheel that kept it from spinning freely. Still – in the wintry bike commuting conditions of last Thursday night’s ride, I certainly wasn’t riding anywhere fast.

The bike cops that were out patrolling acknowledged me with a smile and a nod; I think we were equally impressed to see each other out on the roads that evening.

The roads in Chicago are usually pretty well plowed and salted, as was the main east-west street I take leaving work. Salt riddled its damp pavement. But then I turned northbound; the rest of the way home I navigated my way north on mostly snow-packed roads. This type of snow was the slippery kind that makes it hard to gain traction and the roads were such that all of the road had already been driven over and packed down; these roads were some of the worst road conditions I’ve ever encountered on a commute for that much of my route. Luckily, there were few cars on the roads. I just tried to steer clear of the fish-tailing cabs.

The snow bike plowed through and I stayed upright til the end. The end of my journey through a couple blocks of side streets really tested my bike handling skills. I even had a cab following me and worried that much more about falling over into his path. To my surprise, he never honked and kept a safe distance, giving me room to navigate and fishtail now too. (What goes around comes around – from following a fishtailing cab, to a cab following me as I fishtailed.)

At long last I made it home and had to haul up the bike to my apartment. At that moment I realized the heft a front disc brake adds to the bike; I like to think that the added front-end weight helped in my snowy journey. For the final trip up my steps, however, it added to the inconvenience factor of using such a bike on a regular basis.

Today weather forecasters predicted possible snow accumulations of 1″-2″ but only a dusting of flurries stuck to the pavement. For today’s adventure, I put the Green Machine back to work, more than a full month later than it was called into action last winter season.

The Green Machine

With no knobby tires (yet), the Green Machine offers much less rolling resistance, with all the stability of a mountain bike for anticipated snowy commutes. The biggest drawback so far to the Green Machine remains her lack of a full front end fender (due to the full suspension fork):

No full front fender mounts on the Green Machine

Tomorrow I may add MTB Barmitts to the Green Machine to add further buffering from the windchills. Up until now, my REI mittens have served me well, but do not allow full dexterity for grip and brake controls.

Mittens protect my hands on the harshest of days

(On a side note: last Thursday I had carried a secondary glove set-up in the rear pocket of my cycling jacket. In that pocket I had stashed my wind barrier lobster cover gloves, just in case my big mitts proved to be too much for the conditions. I also had my camera in my back pocket for easy access. During one of my reaches into the pocket for my camera, I must have caused one of my gloves to fall out of my pocket. I arrived at work and was cleaning off my jacket and discovered I was missing a glove. Also in the ordeal, I got my camera wet and it is now at the camera “doctor” so my photos may be sparse for a while. On my commute home I tried to find my glove, but too much snow and darkness made the search difficult. Friday morning I followed my same route and paused at the same locations where I’d taken photos the previous morning. The plows had clearly passed through overnight. Lo and behold – along the curb at my second stop there it was – my lost glove! It lay there in a crumpled up heap of soppy slush and suffered only a couple of knicks from the plows but it survived! Sorry, folks, no photo of the discovery.)

Tonight’s commute home wasn’t so bad. The challenge was mainly in breathing; in the cold temps I pull up a buff over my nose and mouth which keeps the air warm and moist but still doesn’t solve the runny nose dilemma. I had pulled down the buff entirely by the end of my commute.

Still I arrived home refreshed and breathed a hefty “Ah..” in the crisp night air. I glanced up and to my amazement saw clear skies and a sky above full of twinkling stars and some visible constellations. For a city gal, seeing stars from my place is a treat.. and it’s one reason I do enjoy the crisp and clean (dare I say refreshing?) cold winter air. I love the clear wintry night skies!
(I’m still not much of a fan of snow!). 🙂

A special thanks to my coworker for snapping the photos of the Green Machine you see in this post.

Chicago “Bikey” Events this weekend – and you’re invited

Tonight – Friday, December 9 – our friends at Turin Bike Shop in Evanston, IL, invite all to this charity event: Dr. Jeff Spencer (of the Lance’s winning Tour de France Postal team) will speak tonight at TURIN, sharing his “insider secrets” about the tools you need to plan your success in cycling:

Charity Event at Turin Bike Shop

Then, on Saturday, December 10, the City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation will be hosting a community open house about the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan. As noted in an email from the Active Transportation Alliance:

Chicago’s Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan is gaining momentum. In a nutshell, the plan will guide the development of 150-250 miles of innovative bikeways—including protected bike lanes—that will make bicycling a safe and easy option for everyone in Chicago.

For an introduction to the Streets for Cycling Plan, come for an hour or two to an open house that will be held this Saturday. There will be mapping exercises, opportunities to speak with Chicago Department of Transportation staff about biking in your neighborhood and there will be videos on a continuous loop. Please tell (and bring) your friends!

The details:

Streets for Cycling Open House
December 10th, Saturday
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
23 E. Madison St. (storefront)
Find it on Facebook

Community advisory groups have also been set up in nine regions around the city to gather input for the plan. Each group is led by volunteer co-leaders and is open to volunteers who want to get involved outside of the public meetings to provide more focused, in-depth input.

If you are interested in working with the advisory group in the region of the city where you live, here’s more information.

For more events and opportunities in the Chicago area, see the calendar of events on TheChainlink.org — plenty to keep you and your bike busy each day.

New Striping in the Bike Lane: friend or foe?

Construction season nears its end, and I’m noticing some new bike / ped lane striping going on in Chicago — along my commuting route! It’s awesome to see fresh new white lines and newly painted bike images in the bike lane.

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I took a photo of the crew painting the new bike markers in my lane during my morning commute; they were happy to pose for a photo op.
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The bright white stripe of demarcation is so much more visible at night and I have noticed that motorists do not encroach as much on my designated road space – at least they seem to notice the bike lane. Of course, that doesn’t keep me from moving beyond my narrow lane; if road conditions in the bike lane are hazardous or if a car is double-parked or there’s a threat of dooring, then I reserve my right to ride outside of the bike lane and to take the lane of motor vehicle traffic for my own safety.

I’ve heard the comments from some bicyclists who see striping as a concession to “the man” putting bikes in their place. I, however, welcome the simple white lane “buffer”. As Jack “Ghostrider” commented to me in our discussions of this post, “Yeah, I sort of like them myself…a bit of psychological buffer (“yay, my own private lane!” — and in Tampa, that was so true).” I do the same mental happy dance when I see this fresh paint – a fresh indication – to at least designate a lane and a place for bicycles on the road. Here in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has actually promised that 100-miles of protected bike lanes will be installed over the next four years – a project termed the Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign and “wants to make Chicago the most bike-friendly place in the United States.”

The new bike lane installation is already underway. Miriam and I explored the first stretch of protected bike lanes on Kinzie during her visit to Chicago. Most recently, the city’s resurfacing project on Jackson has led to a second protected bike lane being installed on Jackson Boulevard from Western Avenue to Halsted Street. The city is evaluating road projects already in the works and has been able to more quickly and affordably get these first protected bike lanes in place in a fairly efficient fashion.

Jackson Bike Lane:
IMG_5817

Motorists are already grumbling. But what about cyclists? The “go-fast crowd” may not like the new lanes since they restrict them behind slower bike riders. Likewise, stripes are known to be slippery when wet (all riders should take caution when riding on / crossing the stripes) and road furniture has been attributed to many crashes in big cycling race events (including this the 2010 Giro d’Italia)

I still celebrate the bike infrastructure! 🙂

Earlier this month I attended the community Bikeways (both the 101 and 201) sessions about all that goes into the engineering and planning of such bike lane infrastructure. And there will be much planning in the coming months!
IMG_5825

In the meantime, I’ll continue to get excited over better bike lane demarcations clearly outlining “my entitled space” on the roadway. Every little bit helps. It’s like I’m telling the motorists — “you just stay on your side of that line!” And for the most part, they are and giving me more room. 🙂 On my ride home I couldn’t help but think how seeing these new solid lines to mark off road use kind of reminds me of that scene from the movie Dirty Dancing – “this is your dance space, this is my dance space” until the lines end and we all shuffle around and do our little “dance” together at and through the intersections…

See how the bike lane ends as it approaches the intersection….
IMG_5932

As the city continues to plan out the new Bikeways, let’s hope that such dead zones of infrastructure get addressed. The best way to see the bike infrastructure installed how and where you want is to get involved and attend the future community meetings.

The city’s resolve to make Chicago a more bike and pedestrian friendly place has to start somewhere. I like seeing the smiling workers striping pedestrian crosswalks and bike lanes — a small though noticeable sign to motorists that the streets are not ALL theirs.
IMG_5850

Know Your Rights in a bicycle crash

Please take note of this event going on tonight at Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance Headquarters:

This Crash Support Crash Course & Legal Clinic is a free event that is open to the public, and especially relevant to anyone who has recently been in a bicycle related crash.

Know Your Rights: A Crash Support Crash Course & Legal Clinic
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
6-8PM
Active Transportation Alliance Headquarters
9 West Hubbard, Suite 402, Chicago

Learn what to do after a bicycle related crash and get real life advice from crash support attorneys. Participants will have an opportunity to privately meet with crash support attorneys to talk about the status of any pending cases or insurance claims. This event is free and open to the public. For more information about Active Trans’ Crash Support Program, visit: http://www.activetrans.org/crashsupport

Facebook event listing:
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=132688133497357

Plus, take note of the crash support resources always available for bicycle crash victims as well as the FAQ for what to do after a crash.

Crash Support Group

If you’re looking for support and answers in the wake of a crash, join the Active Trans’ Crash Support Group.

The Crash Support Group meets from 6:30-8 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month. It’s free, confidential and facilitated by a trained professional. Come talk to others who have also been in a crash.

and

Crash Hotline

Call our hotline, 312-869-HELP (4357), to learn about your options. Whether your questions are related to legal, insurance or advocacy issues, we’re ready to help.

Happy Bike to Work Week Chicago

Needless to say, everyday for me is bike to work day and every week is bike to work week.

But here in Chicago, the Active Transportation Alliance puts together a fun line-up of Bike to Work activities – purposely in June when the “iffy” May weather is behind us and we hopefully have sunnier skies and warmer temperatures to brighten up our daily bike commutes.

b2ww

This week is the Bike Commuter Challenge in which businesses “compete with other businesses to get the most employees biking to work during the Bike Commuter Challenge, June 11-17.” Active Trans is behind this challenge and the concept has grown over the years; this year more than 400 teams are signed up as of this posting. For more info about registering your Chicago area company / school / nonprofit for the challenge, go to the registration page.

Winners are determined by the percentage of team members who biked to work during the Bike Commuter Challenge at least once. Participation is scored when someone bikes part or all of the way to work. Even if your officemates bike to the closest train stop, that counts as participation.

You can likely find me this week helping out at one of the many bike pit stops organized for morning commuters throughout the city and suburbs. In fact, my own company hosted its own bike commuter stations this morning to rally employees to bike to work.

Go Team — of all Bike Commuters!

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.

Commuter Profile: Robert Guico

Say hello to Robert Guico, next up in our recurring commuter profile series. Robert sent us his profile information and photos at the end of October (What can I say? I’m a little behind…so ignore the Christmas reference at the end of the questionnaire). Let’s see what Robert has to say!

Name: Robert Guico

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How long have you been a bike commuter?

I’ve been at this for the better part of two years. I remember being a pretty avid bicyclist through middle school and a little bit of high school, but things dropped off when I got to college. I went to IIT, which is 4 miles south of the loop, so I was really close to the Lakefront Path, which is a fantastic place to ride your bike. But by then, I was so out of shape, I could barely go 5 miles.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I started riding my bike to work because I realized I was getting seriously fat. I’m 5’8″ and I’m not built like a stick, but at 237 pounds I realized I should do exercise, not hope to do exercise. Of course, my commute is 9 1/2 miles, one-way, so that first month was… shall we say… brutal.

westbranch-march_s
(The forest preserve in March, before the grass starts growing.)

For a good chunk of my commute (6+ miles), I’m on my own right-of-way (sidepath or limestone screening trail), with few car-bike interactions, and that’s really nice when I want a less stressful commute. It used took me over 50 minutes the first few times, saddle time, to make the trip, but now I can get to work in about 40 minutes on average.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

Ever since I started this plan, I’ve lost about 20 pounds. I’ve probably lost more fat, because this October I’ve biked more in a month than any month in the past two years, and muscle weighs more than fat. I can actually start to see my abs, which is new! My wife likes the new look, and as someone that hated most forms of physical activity in gym growing up, I can confidently say I’m in the best shape of my life. Even my parents, who used to tell me in no uncertain terms that I was fat, approve. (Speaking as an Asian, that’s important!)

On the economic side of the ledger, I’m not sure how much gas I’ve saved. Probably a couple hundred dollars; I try to bike to work 3-4 days a week, so I haven’t cut myself off from the car entirely. It’s a world away from when I was putting on 25,000 miles per year on our Civic… and that many miles wears down all sorts of parts. I needed many more oil changes and headlamp bulbs then than we do now.

Plus, I’m not counting the $1,200 of “the car is 6 years old and some things need fixing” work. In comparison, I put a three-inch hole in my rear tire once, and only had to shell out $50. (The worst part of that experience was the 45 minute walk home.) So overall, I’d say I get a lot of freedom from the mere $300 I’ve spent on my hybrid bike. Regular maintenance doesn’t cost all that much, either.

liesroad-may_s
(The only bike route in town is an east-west sidepath / multipurpose trail. At least it’s well signed!)

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I’m a software engineer at Lynch2, a web development company in Bartlett, Illinois (the next town northwest from where I live, Carol Stream.) I’ve noticed a lot of software engineers decide to bike to work… maybe it’s just because there’s a lot of us on the internet, wanting to share our common experiences. The flexible work environment (in terms of hours) helps a lot, too.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have one bike, a Trek hybrid. I don’t have the faintest idea what model it is, but I do know it’s about 6 years old. We bought it when we first moved into our apartment by O’Hare, but I rarely (if ever) used it–we had a bus that ran straight from the apartment complex to the nearest Blue Line stop, or drove into downtown. My wife has the other bike, but she doesn’t like bicycling nearly as much as I do.

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I have no complaints about it whatsoever. I haven’t named it or anything, but it’s hard for me to imagine, “Hmm, will I take the red bike, or the blue bike to work today?” I think I’ll ride this one ’til the frame falls apart.

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

There are precious few bicycle commuters once you leave the (more) bike-friendly streets of Chicago. On a cold day in March, I might pass two joggers on my 9-mile journey to work. On a warm day in June, I might pass a dozen cyclists; half of them are training for the next road race, and most of the rest are just out for a recreational spin. One or two of them might be other bicycle commuters.

I think I know what to look for. Panniers? Camelbaks? Bright reflective clothing? Mirrors on the helmets? If I pick up the signs right, there are five or six of us out here (along my route, anyway… and there aren’t that many dedicated bike routes), and I don’t see them every day.

duskcommute_s
(I’ve been going through this forest preserve during sunset recently. Fortunately for me, the sunsets have been spectacular. )

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

Well, most people at work think I’m nuts some, if not most days. You know, those days when it’s 30 degrees outside and I show up on two wheels, or if there’s a high wind warning, or if a big thunderstorm rolled through earlier that morning, or if the heat index is 105°… I mean, it’s Chicago. I know all of these things can happen, sometimes in that same week.

My parents think it’s dangerous, but I think my route is one of the safer routes in the county. Mostly, they can’t believe that I spend an hour and a half just pedaling on a bike… and usually, they’re noticing I’m thinner, which I don’t mind.

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

Heh. I am a local advocacy group… it’s just called Carol Stream Bikes, and it consists of me and a handful of other people on an email list. There isn’t any other natural place for a bicycle group to form–our suburb of 40,000 doesn’t have a local bike shop or any sort of bike/ped specific governmental institution. So I made one up.

However, I have a full time job, so it hasn’t grown as much as I would like. But I’m in the initial stages of working with both the local government and retail businesses to encourage biking and build more bike infrastructure. Hopefully with persistence, things will go well. The website (which is nowhere near done) is at http://www.csbikes.org.

I’m also a member of the League of Illinois Bicyclists and the Active Transportation Alliance, formerly known as the Chicago Bicycle Federation. I bounce some ideas off of both those groups every now and then, too.

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(19.5 miles away from home, Whole Foods [Schaumburg] provides a perfect example of how underground bike parking should be done. I just wish it was closer.)

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I bought my first pair of gloves two months ago, before the 62-mile long Boulevard Lakefront Tour. I hate buying bike-specific clothing (because I don’t think bike commuting should be anything special or expensive) but I do appreciate the extra comfort in my hands.

Polarized prescription sunglasses are actually worth getting, whether you’re driving or bicycling. I might even be able to see after a good snowstorm, now!

Instead of getting a $100+ dedicated bike-specific headlight to see where I’m going in the dark (the one mounted on my bike helps me be seen, but not much else), I bought a $15 LED mini-flashlight and fastened it to my helmet with electrical tape (and by looping the flashlight around the vents in my helmet so it doesn’t fall off. Works really well for me!

I’d like to keep doing this for as long as I can, including through the winter. Which means I’m going to have to find a way to stay warm below 20°. I think that I’ll have to get used to wearing long johns. But Christmas is coming up, which means egg nog, so… I’ll find a way!

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(One of my alternate routes home. I have never, ever passed a bicyclist on this bridge. Or on the rest of this path. So how many bicyclists total do you think actually obey the “stop and walk your bikes” sign?)

We’d like to thank Robert for sharing his words, thoughts and photos, and want to remind others who have submitted profiles that we haven’t forgotten about you…there’s a backlog of stuff just waiting to be edited and published, so we’ll get to your profiles soon. If you’re interested in submitting a profile for publication, please drop us a line at info@bikecommuters.com or ghostrider@bikecommuters.com and we’ll send out the questionnaire and simple instructions. Thanks!